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Nan Goldin’s activism on full display in ‘All the Beauty and the Bloodshed’

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Los Angeles, CA — Recently, I watched an exclusive screening of “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed”,  a documentary directed by photographer Laura Poitras herself. Before there were camera phones, Instagram, TikTok, and all the other mediums to which we consume images and videos, there was film. And Laura Poitras is one of the great film photographers of our time. Poitras specialized in “real life” photography. Despite garnering an enormous amount of praise among her community, her edgy, avant-garde images also garnered an equal amount of scrutiny and criticism. 

Her documentary, “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” is a self-directed film that shines a light on how her childhood influenced her rebellious spirit.  From the outside, Poitras had a somewhat “normal” childhood. Growing up in the suburbs, in a family with both mother and father at home, we might assume the American Dream starts and ends there. But what we soon uncover is a deeper, darker secret… a family tragedy leads Laura through life with unresolved emotional wounds. She finds solace and refuge behind her camera, documenting and recording, and photographing.  

She states that her greatest attraction to photography was that there’s no way to conceal or hide from what’s captured.  She also conveys that stigma and denial are the catalysts for rebellion and defiance. These in a way, shape Laura into the photographer and artist that she soon will become.

In her documentary, we witness her channel this rebellious spirit against political powers during the aids epidemic in the 1980s, and most recently she takes on one of the most powerful and influential names/families, the Sacklers and Perdue.All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” highlights a major point, that art is political, it is influential, and it transcends class and social constructs.

“All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” is a powerful piece and has won the favor of this viewer. The Venice 2022 Golden Lion Winner documentary is now in theaters in New York and Los Angeles starting Dec. 2.

By Aysia Howard

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