“Proud to have killed unpunished billionaires”, says the artist protagonist of ‘All the Beauty and the Bloodshed’, the only doc in competition at the Lido
(Adnkronos / Cinematografo.it) – “My greatest pride is to have brought down a family of billionaires, when in America the billionaires have a different judicial system, that is, total impunity”. Word of the famous artist and activist Nan Goldin, protagonist of All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, the new work by Laura Poitras, Oscar winner for the documentary Citizenfour in 2015. In Venice 79 as the only documentary in Competition, Goldin tells through slides, intimate dialogues , his groundbreaking photographs and rare footage in the battle to gain recognition of the Sackler family’s responsibility for drug overdose deaths. Not only that, the focus is on his existential and artistic path, with particular regard for his sister Barbara who committed suicide, the anaffective parents, as well as the friends he had and lost, already portrayed in Ballad of Sexual Dependency and in the exhibition on AIDS Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing of 1989, censored by the National Endowment for the Arts.
The launch of the doc frames the demonstration action of PAIN, the group founded by Goldin, to induce the Met to reject the Sackler funds, or the proceeds of Purdue Pharma, which made billions of dollars producing oxycodone, of which it knew the harmful effects in terms of addiction.
On the genesis of All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Poitras talks about “an organic process, around an artist who used her artistic influence to tell the failures of society, first with Witnesses and now with PAIN, first for AIDS and now with opioid overdose: this convergence was the first pillar. Of absolute impact for storytelling, representation and courage, Nan revealed herself in very intimate interviews at her home on weekends: we went in depth, even with pain, it was an extraordinary journey “.
“Laura is a political filmmaker, but I had no state secrets to share,” says Goldin, but “working with her was therapy without a therapist: I told her things I had never told her before. Being here in Venice today is an honor ”.
The film, says Poitras, “shows Nan the same respect that she has always attributed to the subjects of her photos”, then the director returns to the “extreme courage of the artist: it talks about things that generally remain private and destroy people. If that was not enough, she lashed out at the corruption and philanthropy of the Sacklers like no other, who would have taken these risks? In short, Nan deserved an epic film, in which her exhibition on AIDS would converge with the present ”.
Given that today she feels “an old lady” and that “the most important thing for an artist is to say no”, Goldin observes how “I have always worked on stigma, from forms of sexuality to gender choices in the 1970s to relationships between men and women, from AIDS to mental illness, from self-harm to drugs and the opioid crisis. Wrong things are kept silent, I hope they will be talked about ”.
If even today in the world “there are ten million people suffering from AIDS”, Nan sinks the blow: “Stigma and phobia kill people, the community has never died of AIDS, now I don’t want to die another one. Nothing is right in America today, people are not taken care of ”.