Hot Docs review: Strand: Under The Dark Cloth

One of the biggest names in American photography gets the documentary treatment

STRAND: UNDER THE DARK CLOTH (John Walker, Canada). 81 minutes. Rating: NNNN

Photography giant Paul Strand comes under intense scrutiny in this entry, part of Hot Docs’s John Walker retrospective.

Via interviews with many of Strand’s collaborators and two of his wives, Walker, who was mentored by the artist, reveals how Strand went from photographer to filmmaker – he’s credited with one of the first documentaries ever made – and then back to his first love, photography, all the time striving for social justice.

Not surprisingly, since it’s about a visual artist, this doc is beautiful to look at. A sequence comparing Strand’s early photos with the paintings of modernists is especially arresting and his film imagery, especially in scenes from the anti-Ku Klux Klan feature Native Land, is powerful.

But it’s not all deadly serious – consider his portraits of celebrities in 60s Paris. And what’s not to like about a movie that features Georgia O’Keeffe?

May 1, 3:15 pm, TIFF 2

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