Ever wanted to learn more about an amazing, captivating, female pioneer only to find the story undocumented, or worse, simply buried? That’s what happened to me when I discovered the work of Jewish American photographer Helen Levitt. I am making a film to fill that gaping hole. 95 Lives uncovers Helen Levitt’s legendary career documenting NYC streets for 70 years and transforming American street photography forever. Born in 1913 in Brooklyn to Jewish Russian parents, Levitt died at aged 95 with an outpouring of obituaries celebrating her art while noting her disdain for fame.
When I first learned of Helen Levitt through a photography master class, I wanted to read a biography and watch a documentary about her, a true American master. None existed. When I asked why, the seminar curator (an expert from the Metropolitan Museum of Art) replied, “the right person hasn’t come along.” I was convinced my documentary training and passion made me ready for a camera-shy photographer like Levitt. A few months later, I flew to New York and met her, as it turned out, just before she passed away. I asked Helen Levitt if I could make a documentary about her life, and she replied, “Wait till I’m dead, hon.” I am taking on this no-nonsense photographer because I am passionate for her work’s power to make us laugh, think, and travel straight to the moment and place it was captured. I have found a magical world and want to share this story of discovery with you. Why is this story so important?
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