Tribeca Film Festival: Liza Minnelli Documentary Includes Lost Footage

A new documentary celebrates the life of singer and actress Liza Minnelli. And it begins with the death of his mother, Judy Garland.

“Liza: A Truly Terrific Absolutely True Story” (premiering at the Tribeca Festival on June 12) opens with the vision of Garland’s rose-covered coffin being carried before thousands of grieving fans in New York in 1969.

With this dark beginning, director Bruce David Klein makes his point. Rather than dwelling on Minnelli’s childhood years in the orbit of her prodigiously gifted mother, he sets out to show that Minnelli, 78, rose to fame almost immediately after her mother’s death – as if that had been a catalyst for its success.

Klein includes interviews with Minnelli’s artistic mentors, stage partners, and close friends, including actress Mia Farrow, who speaks of her with affection and insight.

There are also glimpses of the media nastiness she’s faced throughout her career, like this reporter who asked, “They write about you that you’re ugly?” His response: “I don’t care. When I’m on stage, I just do my job.

In a recent video interview, Klein — whose previous documentaries focused on billionaire Carl C. Icahn and singer and actor Meat Loaf — talked about telling Minnelli’s story. The conversation has been edited and condensed.

Why did you decide to make a documentary about Liza Minnelli?

Liza deserves it, because she has an artistic level that many people have forgotten and that needs to be remembered, it’s truly breathtaking. This is not a definitive chronological documentary about Liza, but a documentary about how Liza became Liza.

I have always been fascinated by Liza. I was too young to see “Cabaret” in the cinema, but I was totally obsessed with the poster for the naughty film. It looked like something I wasn’t allowed to look at.

When her “Liza’s at the Palace…” concert took place on Broadway in 2008, she had just come out of a wild marriage and had undergone hip surgery. There were a lot of questions about her health, and did she still have it? Nobody knew what to expect. The whole audience was so silent.

She came out and did one of her signature hand movements. And I’ve never seen anything like it. Grown men and women weren’t just applauding, they were standing in the Broadway seat with tears streaming down their faces.

When we started talking to people about Liza, they had just found about 25 hours of old footage that had never been seen before – in Liza’s closet. And our jaws dropped. We realized there was a story here about this magical time in the 70s when she transformed. Her mother died, and within three to five years she won a Tony, an Oscar and so on: a mind-blowing feat.

Why did you choose Judy Garland’s death as your starting point?

I always fight this urge to be chronological, to be from start to finish. It’s a little boring when you’re like, “Then she won this award, did this song, and made this movie.” »

Also, this is Liza Minnelli’s story, not Judy Garland’s daughter’s story. Yes, his journey is inextricably linked to that of his mother. But Judy dies and Liza comes into her own.

You talk to the people closest to her. You could say it’s an authorized documentary, like an authorized biography.

I don’t know if you’d call it that, because Liza had no input into the film. It’s me who speaks.

I will share with you a moment. One day after filming, Liza reached out, grabbed my hand, stroked my hand and looked at me with her saucer-shaped eyes. And she said, “Bruce, don’t put anything phony in the movie. Don’t make me look like a fake. In all my years of making documentaries, the subjects generally want to manipulate and control the narrative.

I think she’s very comfortable with what she did and the mistakes she made. The idea of ​​“don’t make me out to be fake” is really the ultimate insight into how she views her legacy, which is: I’m 100% comfortable in my own skin.

Can you talk about her upbringing as the child of Hollywood royalty and how she managed to have such a strong identity of her own?

The fact is that when she was born, the third person to hold her was Frank Sinatra. Gene Kelly taught him to tap dance. She comes from one of the most talented women of the 20th century, Judy Garland, and one of the most talented men, Vincente Minnelli. So, in a sense, she was born on third base, with all her connections. But her journey from third base to home was actually more difficult than your or my journey around the bases because of the expectations and legacy she had to deal with.

No one was more privileged as a child in Hollywood than Liza. And yet, for so many other star children, nothing happened. It was a very difficult road. You might sit back and say, “She was born with a silver spoon.” But I hope we showed how hard she worked on it.

Why is Liza Minnelli the colossus that she is?

A friend of mine told me, while we were working on a project together, that tall people are awesome for a reason. It sounds so cliche, but when you start diving into a really great person’s life’s work and everything in between, it becomes so obvious. It screams at you.

Liza is unique because she was an influencer before social media existed. I don’t think people understand what it was like in 1972 to be on the cover of Time and Newsweek in the same week. This has happened to presidents, to popes, not to a movie star. That was the biggest deal.

Liza holds a unique place in pop culture history because she dabbled in fashion; she dabbled in art, with her relationship with Andy Warhol; music; dancing – because she was really good at all those things and she was the muse of brilliant revolutionaries. She is the fire that rages in the middle of it all.

More importantly, I think there is no one else like her. She is unique.

Have you seen her since you finished filming? Are you now part of his entourage?

She’s in Los Angeles and I’m in New York, so I don’t see her much. But I love spending time with her, being in her apartment and hearing her drop everything and go to the piano and say, “I have to sing this song.” If that’s what being in the inner circle is, I’d say yes.

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News Source : www.nytimes.com

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