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The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography

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The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography

“[Dorfman is] a remarkable presence, a cinematic character whose comments distill a lifetime of wisdom, self-awareness, frustration, and survivor’s pride.” (New Yorker)

In the 1960s Elsa Dorfman was a Cambridge, Massachusetts schoolteacher when a colleague presented her with a Hasselblad camera, setting her on a lifelong artistic path. She began by photographing family and famous friends, including Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell. But in 1980 Dorfman got her hands on a Polaroid Land camera (one of only seven made), and, over the next 30 years, she used the massive device to create large-scale instant photographs—portraits 20 inches wide by 24 inches tall—in saturated colors and with unparalleled detail. Documentarian and longtime friend Errol Morris (The Fog of War) finds Dorfman reminiscing as she sorts through her archive including the “B-side” photographs, or alternate shots from a sitting. Now 80 and still active, she grapples with a fading analog past in the digital present.

Tickets: $9 (members), $14 (nonmembers)

This film is part of the FrameWorks 2018: Art on Film series.



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