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Directed by Ondi Timoner
102 min | 2018 | USA | Not Rated
Cast: Matt Smith, Hari Nef, John Benjamin Hickey, Mark Moses, McKinley Belcher III
Robert Mapplethorpe is arguably one of the most important artists of the 20th century. Mapplethorpe discovered himself both sexually and artistically in New York City throughout the 70’s and 80’s. The film explores Mapplethorpe’s life from moments before he and Patti Smith moved into the famed Chelsea Hotel, home to a world of bohemian chic. Here he begins photographing its inhabitants and his newfound circle of friends including artists and musicians, socialites, film stars, and members of the S&M underground. Mapplethorpe’s work displayed eroticism in a way that had never been examined nor displayed before to the public. The film explores the intersection of his art and his sexuality and his struggle for mainstream recognition. The biopic offers a nuanced portrait of an artist at the height of his craft and of the self-destructive impulses that threaten to undermine it all.
“Documentary director Ondi Timoner (Dig!, We Live in Public), making her narrative debut, has ensured that this movie acknowledges the many hard edges and unattractive qualities of this man while also celebrating and not looking away from his most explicit and scariest photographs, many of which rather surprisingly appear onscreen.” – The Wrap
“The 12-year project – commissioned by the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation – is evidence that Timoner, who made documentaries before, can craft a nuanced dramatic feature, shot in Super 16 mm, with faux-documentary moments in 8 mm. She offers a deft observation of Mapplethorpe’s evolving manipulation of his own image, in his pictures and his life, from Polaroids to penises.” – Screen Daily
Official Selection: 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, 2018 Outfest
Director Ondi Timoner has the rare distinction of winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival twice – for her 2004 documentary, Dig! and We Live in Public (2009). Both films were acquired by MoMA, NY for their permanent collection. Other award-winning features include: The Nature of the Beast (1994), Join Us (2007), Cool It (2010) and Brand: A Second Coming (2015). In 2017, Ondi created and produced the critically-acclaimed 10-hour nonfiction series Jungletown about the building of “the world’s most sustainable town” for Viceland. MAPPLETHORPE (2018) is Ondi’s first scripted feature, starring Matt Smith – which she co-wrote, directed, edited and produced through her production company, Interloper Films.