The Art of the Underdog
(David Shapiro, United States, 2015, 81 min)
Sunday, Mar 20 at 07:00PM
A mystery about an art collector, an outsider artist, and an unsolved murder, Missing People occupies the troubled and enigmatic mind of Martina Batan, a Manhattan art curator. Martinas lifelong demon is the unsolved 1978 murder of her younger brother, Jeff. At the time, Martina was 18 years old. The violent death drove the beautiful art student into a life of insomnia, loneliness, and obsessive compulsion. Among her obsessions: the collecting of artwork by the deceased, critically underappreciated New Orleans painter Roy Ferdinand.
The film interweaves these three threads: Martina, Jeff, Roy. The two dead men are Martinas obsession and the films initial focus. Jeff, long deceased and never older than 14, and the stranger/surrogate-brother, Roy, who passed away in 2004 after a life of homelessness and crack cocaine dependency. His paintings garnered local recognition for their unflinching depictions of urban existence: drug-wracked bodies, dilapidation, and murder victims. In Rays scarred face, and the expressionless faces of his subjects, Martina discerned the absence of her own loved one.
Of course, the unfortunate part about the dead is that they are never as simple as we need them to be. As the film spirals away from Martinas lifelong self-examination, it opens into the mortifying truth: we will all, in some manner or another, go missing. Its simply a question of time.
Northwest Film Forum (View)
1515 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122