| Cinema Savant
WWII veteran-artists featured in stunning documentary
By Mike Falcigno
June 14 2007
The documentary film format gives filmmakers an opportunity to be recognized on a meager budget, while giving them an opportunity to educate and entertain. Where the subjective validity of works by Michael Moore can be argued, based on his left-of-center politics, Art in the Face of War , though smaller in scope than your typical Moore film, speaks a powerful message about war. Unlike many war documentaries, each of the men speaking in the film were actually there.
The documentary, directed by David E. Baugnon, is made up of stories and artwork by eight WWII veterans living in Connecticut. An exhibition of their artwork at the Carriage Barn Arts Center in New Canaan (curated by Cecelia M. Barnett) served as the impetus for the documentary. What sets Art in the Face of War apart is the quality of the content. The art used to illustrate their stories is astoundingly conceived, often executed under less than desirable conditions or from haunted memories. Though each artist deploys a unique style, the sense of raw immediacy inherent in each piece binds the work together as one. What I found pleasantly surprising is that all eight men are gifted speakers, carrying the audience from one engaging recount to the next, from their pre-war lives to the aftermath.
Some of these stories are humorous, others heart-wrenching, and all are insightful.
Victor Dowd, Syd Greenberg, Doug Leigh, Howard Munce, Clark Robinson, Arthur Shilstone, Tracy Sugarman, and Ed Vebellóthese are names that resonate with adoration, compassion and respect. Well-shot and edited by Ed Holt, Art in the Face of War is an essential document of our history, one that should be shown in every classroom, library, and living room in the country. The DVD is packed with special features, including commentary by the veterans on the current conflict in Iraq.
Lorraine Gengo wrote last week about the art itself, which is currently being shown in Bridgeport at the City Lights Gallery. I happen to work at the gallery and had the pleasure of meeting this incredible group of artists as we prepared for the exhibition. I donít want to stand on a soapbox, but I truly believe Art in the Face of War is the most vitally important exhibition we have ever had at the gallery.
I urge readers to visit City Lights Gallery (37 Markle Court in Bridgeport) on Thursday, June 14 at 6:30 p.m. to view a special screening of the documentary and to meet the artists in person.
For more information go to http://www.citylightsgallery.org/. Copies of Art in the Face of War DVD are also available at City Lights.
Copyright © 2007, Fairfield County Weekly