"Sawka... gets inside the artist, goes beyond the “iconic” and finds the man behind the beautiful and evocative pictures." - "Taking Stock: Documentary on Photographer this Sunday" by Rich Corozine for The Almanac, March 1, 2013 (Click here for full article.) (Article as PDF).
"Hanna Sawka's "Beyond Iconic" pulls off what few filmmakers have done: truly to make still images dance with meaning. Her portrayal of the life's work of photo essayist Dennis Stock gives a startlingly clear glimpse of the mind of a photographic genius, and in the process Sawka herself fashions a work of great originality. Stock's mission was to find the wholeness in an increasingly fractured world: Sawka's film shows how it can be done."
- Stephen Trombley, President, Worldview Pictures Corp. director of "The Execution Protocol", June 13, 2012
“Hanna Sawka Hamaguchi’s Beyond Iconic is a portrait of the Magnum photographer Dennis Stock, an octogenarian rebel who seems far younger than the white affluent students he teaches at the Omega Institute in upstate New York. Hamaguchi smartly cuts from Stock’s master class to direct interviews with the no-nonsense product of The Bronx (“The more you rationalize bad pictures the further you get from taking good pictures,” he advises his students), juxtaposed with Stock narrating the stories behind many of his legendary stills, including the shot of a pre-iconic James Dean navigating Times Square in the rain. Stock comes off as a brilliant teacher – both brutally honest and sensitive, and able to clearly articulate what works in a photo, what doesn’t, and why. The man who calls Photoshop “dangerous” because it can change the original observation would have made a great art critic. When Stock died last year after the film was completed the world lost not just a genius photographer but also a phenomenal mind.”
"I have done many interviews, and... there are always so many materials to write. The 35th festival has proportionally as many beautiful encounters. With Frances, the widow of Elia Kazan; Jan Harlan, the brother-in-law of Stanley Kubric, and with Atom Egoyan and Anna [sic] Sawka. She directed a documentary that I enjoyed so very much, "Beyond Iconic." The celebrated photo that Dennis Stock took of James Dean - the star in an overcoat, wrapped up and advancing, cigarette in the mouth, on the wet asphalt - is the point of departure for a discussion about the art of photography and more. About art, tout court. About the manipulation of images. About aesthetics. "Beyond Iconic" is obligatory viewing for photographers, and not just for them. Will this film be selected by the public for the competition for the Sao Paulo Flag trophy? "
“Stock’s artistic philosophy, his commitment to integrity of purpose and his ability to see the story in a picture are expertly depicted in this unnarrated treatment.”
Renowned for his classic portraits of Hollywood stars and jazz musicians, Magnum photographer Dennis Stock held strong opinions on what makes a lasting image. Documenting Stock before his death in 2010, Beyond Iconic takes us through his career and reveals how he captured such iconic pictures as James Dean walking through Times Square in the rain. We get privileged access into Stock’s photography workshop as he shares a lifetime of wisdom.
“The black-and-white photos are as familiar as they are striking; not so the name Dennis Stock. Hanna Sawka Hamaguchi’s documentary makes us wonder why the late photographer should not have been just as well known as the images that are his legacy (among them that indelible portrait of James Dean wandering the rain-slicked streets of Times Square). Stock’s crystal-clear and unwavering belief in artistic integrity serve as reminders that great art is the result of lifelong dedication to the pursuit of perfection.
Hamaguchi stuck close to home for this intimate look into the life and teachings of Stock. A longtime resident of upstate New York, she enlisted a crew of locals to film him at home and at the workshop where he taught photography with stern but fair command. Even the evocative and pitch-perfect jazz score is composed and performed by fellow upstaters John Menegon and Teri Roiger.
The director balances Stock’s quiet, contemplative life with his wife and pets against his worldly, vibrant, and yet somehow equally intimate portraits of actors, musicians, and a generation of iconoclasts struggling to find meaning in an increasingly pop culture–driven America. While his pictures need no explanation, Hamaguchi allows Stock’s belief in his work to echo with the same eloquence, clarity, and confidence they emanate.”
"Her film balances Stock’s quiet, contemplative life with his wife and pets against his worldly, vibrant, and yet somehow equally intimate portraits of actors, musicians, and a generation of iconoclasts struggling to find meaning in an increasingly pop culture–driven America."
- Colorado Photographic Arts Center, November 2012
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