From serious exposes to the sort of fatuous fodder that would once have filled-up late night TV schedules, documentaries are suddenly hot news – winning festival awards celebrity backers. All of which makes Love Bites even more remarkable.
Sundance award-winning filmmaker James Scott’s documentary is the result of a four-and-a-half -year labour of love. Self-financed, with James as director, editor and cameraman Love Bite premiers in the documentary shorts competition at SXSW 2016 before its home release later in the year.
As the film’s subtitle tells us, Scott’s subject is American artist “Laurie Lipton and her Disturbing Black and White Drawings”. However, as Scott’s documentary shows us, though, what compels her is neither black nor white.
No one on the planet has drawn more than Laurie Lipton. Largely ignored by the mainstream art world, Lipton creates works on vast canvasses, building up layers and layers of detail using tiny pencil strokes. Unconventional and confrontational, her haunted images address some of the most uncomfortable themes in our culture: death, sex, celebrity, greed, and obsession.
Good art documentaries are unusual. Fortunately James Scott is even more unusual: a film maker without an ego. Someone who knows how to listen and who questions without ever intruding into the action. The result is a thoughtful and compelling portrait of a deeply private artist.
“I came across Laurie Lipton’s work completely by accident”, says James. “Her drawing Señorita Muerte was on the cover of a book. It locked eyes with me from across the room and drew me towards it. In the film I try and create an atmosphere for the viewer that is similar to my experience of seeing that drawing for the first time. And I hope that, by sharing her story, philosophies, and artwork in this way, the film can encourage people to think about their own lives and choices in an unconventional way. Something her images did to me.”
On viewing the rough cut of the film, Laurie Lipton commented “Jim has really got me.” But he has done more than that. He’s made a documentary that’s as funny, as surprising, and as entertaining as the lady herself. An outstanding exploration of art, and the fuel that feeds artistic flames.