PORTRAIT OF WALLY
- PORTRAIT OF WALLY
- 2012, Andrew Shea, USA, 90 min.
“Deserves to be one of the docs that breaks into the American pop consciousness this year...handles the density of material with a brevity and finesse that's frankly staggering.”
—Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine
A documentary as rich in character, incident, and intrigue as a Graham Greene novel, PORTRAIT OF WALLY traces the tangled history of an Egon Schiele painting that became a cause célèbre of the art restitution movement. Schiele’s haunting 1912 portrait of his teenage mistress Valerie “Wally” Neuzil was coerced from its Jewish owner by a Nazi art-dealer in post-Anschluss Vienna, obtained under cloudy circumstances by an obsessive Klimt collector after the war, and subpoenaed while on loan to a 1997 MoMA exhibition in New York, where it became the focus of an epic, seesaw court battle that makes “Bleak House” look like an open-and-shut case. Any fears one might have of a dry legal procedural are more than offset by the film’s ample display of Schiele’s still-provocative canvases, a vivid cast of characters ranging from noble to nefarious (with several in the art-museum establishment coming off especially poorly), and an exemplary battle between those seeking to erase the past and those seeking to reclaim it. In English and German with English subtitles. HDCAM video. (MR)
Jan Lisa Huttner, film critic for the JUF News, will lead a discussion after the Thursday 7:45 pm screening.