The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography

The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography


October 23, 2017, 2:30 PM


Main Street Landing Film House
60 Lake Street, 3rd floor


Film Festival

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The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography
Directed by Errol Morris
USA | 2017 | | Documentary 76 min
Film Source: Neon
Co-Sponsors: Barbara Zucker, Judith Gerber

Also Showing Friday, October 27 at 7:00PM 

The Polaroid camera has never been held in high regard by photography aficionados. The boxy apparatus, which spit out white-framed photos that developed within minutes, was a camera for the masses, be it instant keepsakes from family reunions or cops snapping crime-scene photos. The portrait photography of Elsa Dorfman was a notable exception. In the late 1970s, Dorfman (who had already made a name for herself with candid shots of Beat Generation icons such as Allen Ginsberg) began working with a large-format Polaroid camera (one of six in existence) that produced 20-by-24-inch exposures. The resulting prints were both intimate and capacious, capturing subjects’ personalities in amplified detail. Director Errol Morris, better known for investigative docs like The Thin Blue Line and The Fog of War, here takes an intimate approach to his subject, interviewing Dorfman in a conversational style as she pores over decades’ worth of outtakes in her photo archives. Morris’ heartfelt portrait of the portrait photographer — whose work bridged the gap between traditional photography and the instant gratification of the digital era — serves as a nostalgic remembrance of a bygone era and a gentle reminder of the importance of film preservation.  ~LB

The B Side 5