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NYS Writers Institute, February 22, 2008
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Standish Room, Science Library
Discussion | Page Hall, 135 Western Ave. Downtown Campus



Perry Miller Adato, prize-winning documentary filmmaker, and a pioneering figure in the art of biographical and historical filmmaking, will discuss the making of her landmark documentary, “Gertrude Stein: When This You See, Remember Me” (1970), immediately following a screening of the film on Friday, February 22, 2008 at 7:00 p.m. in Page Hall, 135 Western Ave., on the University at Albany’s downtown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m. in the Standish Room, 3rd Floor, Science Library on the uptown campus, the filmmaker will present an informal seminar on the challenges of making her new two-part film series, “Paris: The Luminous Years”. The events, which are free and open to the public, are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and UAlbany’s Documentary Studies Program.

Perry Miller Adato is a pioneering practitioner in the art of biographical and historical filmmaking. The “Philadelphia Inquirer” has asserted, “.... Among American producers and directors, she leads the league....”  

Adato’s 1970 documentary, “Gertrude Stein: When This You See, Remember Me” (U.S., 89 minutes, b&w/color, DVD), is one of the key works of the historical documentary genre. Using revolutionary techniques that have been widely imitated, the film makes use of old photographs, letters, readings, art objects, songs, newsreel footage, radio recordings, and interviews with living artists who were friends of Gertrude Stein, in order to bring its subject to life. The film is loosely based on Stein’s mistitled 1932 self-portrait, “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.” In a review that appeared in “Wired,” themagazine of technology and culture,a full 25 years after the making of the documentary, Phil Hall called “Gertrude Stein,” “a video that lovingly celebrates this amazing force of human nature.... Required viewing.”

In 1977, Adato became the first woman to receive the prestigious Directors Guild of America Award for her television documentary, “Georgia O’Keeffe,” which currently holds the record for sales in the “films on art” category.Adato went on to receive that same award three more times for “Picasso: A Painter’s Diary (1980),” “Carl Sandburg: Echoes and Silences (1982),” and “Eugene O’Neill: A Glory of Ghosts” (1986).

Her most recent documentary is “Alfred Stieglitz: The Eloquent Eye” (2001). With stunning photographic images from the Stieglitz archive, and interviews with major photographers and artists (including Georgia O’Keeffe), this episode in the PBS “American Masters” series presents the “Father of Modern Photography.” The e-zine “Digitally Obsessed!”called it, “a richly researched, visual essay that turns an objective lens back on its subject and depicts this influential geomancer of American Modernism in the natural light of his era....”

During the afternoon seminar Adato will discuss the process of funding and producing a major documentary, using as an example her current project “Paris: The Luminous Years,” a two-part series that celebrates the arts in Paris from 1905–1930. Funded by both the National Endowment for the Arts and the French Ministry of Culture, the new work provides a vivid look at one of the most tumultuous and exciting times in recent western cultural history. To illustrate the challenges of filmmaking, Adato will show clips from her film, “Picasso: A Painter’s Diary.”

In the evening, Adato will provide commentary and answer questions following a screening of her landmark documentary “Gertrude Stein.”

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.