Drawing on a lifetime of family home movies and 12 years’ worth of interviews, filmmaker Cindy Kleine uncovers her parents’ secrets and tells a story that could not be shown publicly when her father was still alive — but now her film, Phyllis and Harold, is showing Sunday, August 2, at 7:30 p.m. at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center in Vineyard Haven. Ms. Kleine will attend and discuss her documentary at the screening.
Imagine making a documentary about your parents, in which confessions go on record that cannot be revealed until one of them has died. That is the extraordinary circumstance Ms. Kleine found herself in as she was making Phyllis and Harold, a documentary about her parents’ 59 disastrous years of marriage. Filmmaker Ken Burns (Jazz, Baseball, The Civil War) calls this frank and fearless chronicle “a masterpiece.”
Twelve and a half years in the making, Phyllis and Harold addresses the effects of secrecy on the Kleine family. Told by Kleine’s mother Phyllis (a would-be Blanche Dubois), her father Harold (a suburban Stanley Kowalski), her sister Ricky, and Kleine herself, this tragically poignant story unfolds and twists and turns in many unexpected directions. In April, the film received the Orson Welles Award for Innovative Filmmaking at the Iowa Independent Film Festival. The film played to a sold-out house at last November’s Boston Jewish Film Festival.
Ms. Kleine is a film and video artist with a prolific career including documentary works that are family dramas; films about eccentric artists and off-the-wall musicians; and deeply personal, poetically framed psychodramas about love lost and spirit gained. Her work has been shown at many festivals and received numerous awards, and she has taught extensively in Boston and New York city. She lives with her husband, theatre director, actor, playwright and painter André Gregory, and their two cats, in New York city and on Cape Cod.
Admission is $10.