Sunday May 18, 2014 was the first public screening of my documentary, “Martin Elkort: An American Mirror” at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. It showed to a crowd of about 200 people, which is an terrific turn out for an early Sunday evening, on a graduation weekend.
Anne Wilkes Tucker, The Gus and Lyndal Wortham Curator of Photography, gave a wonderful opening speech where she helped the audience to create a context of what it was like to be a photographer during that time period and how Martin Elkort’s photographs were distinguished by a lens of optimism.
After the movie screening I read a short piece I had written. Here it is for your enjoyment:
I can’t tell how gratifying it is to bring this film – which is really like bringing my father – into this venue. And I thank you for that Marian Luntz, and for all you do for film in this city.
8 years ago, I wanted to capture my parents on film. It’s what I do as my profession. My business, Legacy Multimedia, focuses on telling life histories in a way that communicates who you are to future generations. So it was important to me to gather their stories while they were both still alive and in good health. As an adult, I wanted to know about them in a much deeper capacity then the experiences I had of them growing up. So a lot of this footage of my father was shot back then.
About three years ago, the stirrings of a storyline surfaced after taking on the management of my father’s street photography archives. So I set about pulling clips from that original footage and forming the first version. Honestly, it was horrible, and a bit incoherent, but the line was there, or the arc, as we call it in storytelling.
Like a photographer developing an image in a darkroom tray, slowly the story began to appear and after several tries, and a lot of contribution from my friends and co-workers, I came to what you just saw here tonight.
I grew up with a man who was a devoted father and husband, had several careers, and who had done some photography sometime in the past. But I never heard much about his work. I saw him as he was.
Fortunately, my parents gave me a lot. I learned the skills of being in a family that works, and stays together. I learned to give to my community. My first career was as a social worker. Eventually my artist emerged and I became a filmmaker. Like my father, I too was interested in everyday lives and the stories that become a legacy.