All the Beauty and the Bloodshed is a film about empathy as a way of life, a collaborative autobiography that is both revelatory and profound. The American portrait photographer Nan Goldin will be known to many as a chronicler of those lost fragments of raw intimacy that occur in the spaces between moments: the post-coital cigarette; the taxi en route to the bar; the beat after a raging argument; the hospital bed repose just before the morphine hits; the untethered child hankering for an embrace. The evanescent nature of the images she captures imbues them with a purity of feeling, something indescribable and enigmatic. This film about her life, career, family (biological and artistic) and struggles places her iconic photographs in a new light.
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed won the Golden Lion at the 2022 Venice Film Festival – a rare feat for a non-fiction film, albeit in this case, a deserved one. Director Laura Poitras had already made a name for herself as someone interested in meeting various controversial figures – Edward Snowdon, Julian Assange, Osama Bin Laden’s one-time bodyguard – and allowing them to give their side of an often complex story. While this new film initially feels like something a little different, it soon becomes clear that this is another portrait of an activist searching for ways to rail against the entrenched political hegemony and a general system of oppression.
We learn details of Goldin’s early life, but the story is filtered through her contemporary battle against the billionaire Sackler family, whose financial tendrils are sunk into the pharmaceutical industry, and whose mercenary economic practices have instigated a pandemic of opioid deaths in the US. Goldin takes specific umbrage with their attempts to greenwash their filthy lucre through endowments to some of the globe’s biggest art institutions.
In this issue, we place Goldin and her world in the spotlight, exploring her connections to film, the primacy of images and the collaborators she’s worked with along the way.
In this issue
Lead review: All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
Marina Ashioti lauds this extraordinary profile feature that explores the intersections between art and activism.
For Shame: A Conversation with Laura Poitras
Sophie Monks Kaufman interviews the filmmaker on her intimate collaboration with protagonist, Nan Goldin.
You Are Entering a World of PAIN
Activist Megan Kapler on the vital work she undertakes for Nan Goldin’s advocacy organisation, PAIN.
The Art of Dissent: A Conversation with Nan Goldin
Sophie Monks Kaufman meets the legendary photographer, activist and subject of All the Beauty and the Bloodshed.
Journey to the End of the Night
Hannah Strong reports from Stockholm on an innovative and immersive new exhibition of Nan Goldin’s slideshows.
The Cinematic Circle
Juan Barquin offers up a programming proposal for a Nan Goldin-inspired film festival series.
Anna Bogutskaya talks to Bette Gordon about the making of her Hitchcockian 1983 cult classic, Variety.
Alice Through the Looking Glass
Leila Latif celebrates the films of French director Alice Diop, particularly her stunning new drama, Saint Omer.
(Experience My) Transcendent Despair
Charles Bramesco teases out the intricacies of depicting activism on screen with the makers of the brilliant new film, How to Blow Up a Pipeline.