Alternate Cinema | 2017 | 68 minutes
SIFF Says:Artist and filmmaker Peter Greenaway is a collector. He collects images and ideas, and then arranges them into cinematic encyclopedias. His movies can come across as cold and calculating, but only if you don’t realize how personal they actually are. Saskia Boddeke’s artfully built portrait of the man unlocks his life by exploiting a technique he might have used himself: the alphabet. In a series of interviews, he reacts to different letters with surprisingly intimate results. A is for Amsterdam, where he lives after spending 32 years in London. B is for Birds, which leads to an extended section about his father, an amateur ornithologist, who is the reason he included birds in so many of his early films. In lesser hands, this could have ironically been a rigid and overly intellectual documentary, but Boddeke happens to be his wife, and he’s joined onscreen by his teenage daughter Zoë. Not only do they have a solid understanding of his work and legacy, they know him as a person and refuse to allow him to bullshit. The result is a playful documentary that works as an effective primer on his work. Whether you’ve seen just a few or all of his films, THE GREENAWAY ALPHABET will inspire you to visit or revisit them with fresh eyes.
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