Frank along with Henri Cartier Bresson helped to redefine what photography could be in the latter part of the twentieth century. With his book, The Americans, the Swiss-American photographer turned his lens onto his adopted country creating a body of work that while controversial in its time has come to be embraced as one of the most significant works of photography.
With just 83 images, the book published in 1958 revealed a darker, more incisive glimpse into post-war America. This was not the idealized America of glossy magazines, but rather a warts-and-all view into the reality of American life through the eyes of an immigrant. Critically panned in the United States, it was not embraced until years later.
Despite being credited with influencing photography and inspiring generations of photographers, Frank has been notoriously reclusive. He has been reluctant to be interviewed, which he colorfully expresses in the documentary. However, through the persistence and artistry of director, Laura Israel, we gain insight into Frank as a photographer, filmmaker, father and reluctant icon.
The film not only explores his seminal work, The Americans but also examines his subsequent forays as a filmmaker including the director of the infamous documentary of the Rolling Stones, Cocksucker Blues. Whether as a photographer or a filmmaker, Frank reveals how he uses his work to pose questions that he himself may not completely know the answers to. The results are films that may not have been as universally embraced as his early photographic work but clearly demonstrates his desire to challenge himself and his audience.
Currently 93 years old, Frank is still active creatively, often seen in the filmmaking photographing with disposable film cameras. Though we don't see evidence of him embracing the technologies of the digital age, we do see that time has made him more willing to share of himself through another person's lens. By doing so, he provides us insight into one of the most influential photographers of his or any other generation.
The film is available for streaming on iTunes.