This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



The tragic life of artist Francesca Woodman and her family is the focus of intriguing documentary (untitled photo by Francesca Woodman, 1977-78, Rome, courtesy Betty and George Woodman)

THE WOODMANS (C. Scott Willis, 2010)
Film Forum
209 West Houston St.
January 19 - February 2, 1:00, 2:50, 4:30, 6:20, 8:10, 10:00

There’s something inherently creepy about THE WOODMANS, C. Scott Willis’s documentary about a family of artists that opens tonight at Film Forum for a two-week run. For the first half of his debut theatrical release, Willis, an eleven-time Emmy winner who has spent most of his career working for television news organizations, speaks with successful ceramic sculptor Betty Woodman, who had a terrific retrospective at the Met in 2006; her less-well-known husband, painter and photographer George Woodman; and their son, video artist and professor Charles Woodman, focusing on the missing member of the family, photographer Francesca Woodman, who is heard from through excerpts from her diary and seen in her videos and photographs. For those who don’t know Francesca’s fate, Willis builds the tension like a mystery, although it’s obvious something awful occurred. THE WOODMANS gets even creepier once Willis reveals what happened to Francesca, a RISD grad who quickly made a name for herself in the late 1970s taking innovative and influential nude black-and-white photographs of herself. As the parents talk about their daughter’s life and career, Betty explains how she got pregnant more to experience childbirth than to actually be a nurturing mother, and George expresses his jealousy at how Francesca was so admired in the art world, outshining both her parents. That they tend to do so with a calm matter-of-factness contributes to the uncomfortable nature of the film. Willis will participate in a Q&A following the 8:10 screening on January 19.

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