Elliott Erwitt: Silence Sounds Good

The film is as much a study of the people who surround him as it is of Erwitt himself.


Elliott Erwitt: Silence Sounds Good

Elliott Erwitt has spent his entire adult life taking photographs, of presidents, popes and movie stars, as well as regular people and their pets. The acclaimed photographer seemed to be everywhere in his heyday – from meetings with John F Kennedy, to public speeches by Che Guevara, and in the studio with Marilyn Monroe - this documentary shows his simple, almost comical approach to taking pictures. His work is iconic in world culture while his life is largely unknown. Director Adriana Lopez Sanfeliu creates an intimate portrait of Elliott and a life oddly devoted to both companionship and craft.

When they met, Elliott was heartbroken over a dog. Adriana was looking to start a career in photography and he needed a camera assistant for an assignment in Tokyo. The chance meeting led to five years traveling together around the world. When Elliott’s health began to decline, Adriana transitioned to his studio in New York and helped him manage his enormous catalogue. Then, in 2015, when the U.S. embargo against Cuba was lifted they decided to go on one last road trip and caught the first flight out of New York to Havana to see the country he last documented in 1964. The work in Cuba would inspire a new book project and lead to an unlikely companion for Elliott, a puppy named Canelo on a tobacco farm in the Cuban countryside.

ELLIOTT ERWITT: SILENCE SOUNDS GOOD is an intimate portrait of one of the greatest photographers of our time, and his commitment to craft.

Accompanying this program is the short film, ONE THOUSAND STORIES: THE MAKING OF A MURAL, about the photographer JR and his effort to create a fresco to be displayed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
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Mark Monroe
Alexandra Genova, Magnum Photos

“I’m serious about not being serious,” declares Elliott Erwitt, while being interviewed for a soon-to-be-released documentary, Elliott Erwitt: Silence Sounds Good, about his life and works. Pithy phrases like this are peppered throughout the film and reveal the Magnum photographer’s penchant for wit ...

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