Frank was commissioned to make a film about American music but used the funding for a self-portrait with improvised music (of questionable quality). Being rightfully recognized as one of the most important living photographers after breaking conventions in his 1950s photo series "The Americans," Frank was granted a few artistic liberties by his funders. Frank's later autobiographical films and videos have an intense self-reflection fueled by personal tragedy (the losses of his two children and his creative peers).
In conjunction with the photography exhibit on view at the museum, MFAH films will be screening five of Frank's recent and restored works. Frank's approach may initially frustrate those who crave steady camera work and linear narratives. They are completely intuitive and largely improvised, with a great focus on the unremarkable. He begins with the subjects closest to him: his wife, June Leaf, their rural home in Nova Scotia and New York apartment, letters and photographs, the unmade beds around the house, the people who visit, and the mundane activities outside his window. Whether the subject is Alfred Stieglitz (I Remember), the Chinese artist Sanyu (Sanyu) or music in America (About Me: A Musical), Frank manages to use his own life as the backdrop. His wandering narration often hangs in mid-sentence, like a man overwhelmed by what life has dealt him.