Synopsis by Mark Deming
Art is largely about self-expression -- about the artist's desire to tell us something -- but do we always know what it is the artist is trying to say to us? This question comes to mind while considering the life of photographer Francesca Woodman. Francesca grew up in a creative household -- her mother, Betty Woodman, worked in ceramics; her father, George Woodman, was a painter; and her brother, Charlie Woodman, became a video artist. From an early age, Francesca was taught about the importance and value of art, and she displayed a precocious gift as a photographer. In 1975, at the age of 17, Francesca began creating remarkable and unusual images, often featuring nude women, and after studying in Italy and at the Rhode Island School of Design she seemed on the verge of a long and distinguished career until she committed suicide in early 1981, just days before the opening of the first major exhibition of her work. Filmmaker C. Scott Willis offers a moving portrait of an unusual family and how Francesca's family recognized her genius but not the demons that haunted her in the documentary The Woodmans. The film received its world premiere at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival.