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Strand: Under the Dark Cloth

Strand - Under the Dark Cloth

Year: 1989
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 81 min
Director: John Walker
Writer: Seaton Findlay
Editor: Geoff Bowie, Cathy Gulkin, John Kramer
Sound: Aerlyn Weissman, David Springbett, Bob Withey, Jean-Pierre Delorme
Music: Jean Derome, René Lussier
Production Company: John Walker Productions Ltd.

This poetic, beautifully shot, and deeply personal documentary centres on the life and career of Paul Strand, an important, pioneering, but little known, 20th-century American photographer. Strand: Under the Dark Cloth successfully redresses both major shortcomings of the artist’s impressive career — not only does it pull this complex character into sharper focus, it stands to help restore Strand to his rightful place in the history of image-making.

Deeply influenced by Strand’s work, the director, John Walker, creates a portrait that reflects the qualities he finds so valuable in the artist: spontaneity, commitment, sympathy and passion. The film tracks Strand’s long, peripatetic life as he meanders from New York to Mexico to Gaspé to France. His path intersects with vivid and influential personalities, such as mentor Alfred Steiglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Milton Brown, Fred Zinnemann, Leo Hurwitz and Virginia Stevens.

Strand takes viewers on a journey that is spiritual and psychological as well as physical and historical. As its title suggests, the film manages to find the man behind the lens — to lift the cloak which conceals the artist.

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