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'Uncropped' Is 'Great Journalism'

Mon, 03/25/2024 - 14:25
D.W. Young, left, and James Hamilton took a break during the installation of Mr. Hamilton's exhibition at the Sag Harbor Cinema.
Mark Segal

The works of James Hamilton, a photographer who for more than 50 years has chronicled the New York art, film, and music scenes, will be celebrated by the Sag Harbor Cinema this weekend with an exhibit of his film-related photographs and a screening of "Uncropped," a new documentary by D.W. Young about Mr. Hamilton.

The weekend will kick off on Friday at 5 p.m. with a sneak preview screening of "Uncropped," after which Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Young will take part in a question-and-answer session. 

When it was shown at Doc NYC in November, Amy Taubin of Screen Slate called "Uncropped" "a necessary document for anyone who cares about great journalism," and David Morgan of CBS News characterized it as "a vivid portrait of the times." Its theatrical premiere in New York, Los Angeles, and Sag Harbor is set for April 26.

"James Hamilton’s photographs for the Village Voice had a tremendous impact on my early years in New York," says Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan, the theater's founding artistic director. "They spoke so vehemently of the city and its artists. I was thrilled to learn about D.W. Young’s great documentary 'Uncropped.' And even more thrilled, once I saw the film, to discover what an ardent cinephile Hamilton is. This will be a very special weekend."

While Mr. Hamilton's creative career began as a painter studying at Pratt Institute, after two years he found a summer job as a photographer's assistant. He put away his brushes and never looked back, subsequently working at staff positions for Crawdaddy!, The Herald, The Village Voice, Harper's Bazaar, and The New York Observer.

Asked how "Uncropped" came about, Mr. Young said that his wife, Judith Mizrachy, had been the photo editor at The Observer when Mr. Hamilton was there. "So she knew James from working with him, but that was ages ago, and Judith lost touch with him . . . but they were friends on Facebook, and during the first phase of Covid, James started posting a lot of photos there, just for his friends."

Ms. Mizrachy was so impressed that she suggested they collaborate on a documentary on Mr. Hamilton, her husband as director and editor and she as producer.  "I took a look at more of the work, and I was really amazed by it," said Mr. Young. "There are a lot of photography docs, and I was interested in how his work represented so much but also represented the publications he was so integral to. I thought he embodied a lot, above and beyond the core of his photography and his career, and I hope it allows the movie to be even broader in scope."

Mr. Young is accustomed to dealing with a lot of images when making his documentaries, but "James has way more than a lot of images, he has zillions of images, and they cover everything imaginable. There are so many amazing photographs and so much history. Picking and choosing what to include was definitely a monumental task."

James Hamilton's photograph of himself with Jean-Luc Godard is one of a plethora of the photographer's images in D.W. Young's film "Uncropped."


In addition to Mr. Hamilton's images and recollections, the film includes conversations with Wes Anderson, Joe Conason, Michael Daly, Kathy Dobie, Thulani Davis, Richard Goldstein, Alexandra Jacobs, Mark Jacobson, David Lee, Thurston Moore, Sylvia Plachy, Eva Prinz, and Susan Vermazen.

The weekend will also include screenings of three films selected by Mr. Hamilton, who will be on hand to discuss the influence of cinema on his art. Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window" (1954), which, he said, inspired his career as a photographer, will be shown Saturday at 6 p.m. Mr. Anderson's "The Royal Tenenbaums" (2001) will be screened Saturday at 8:45. Mr. Hamilton not only photographed on the set of "Tenenbaums," he also created props for it, which will be included in the cinema's third-floor exhibition.

A screening of George Romero's "Nightriders" (1981), for which Mr. Hamilton also took set photos, will happen on Sunday at 4 p.m.

Of the exhibit, Mr. Hamilton said, "It will only be the second time I have had pictures in a gallery, and I so love that they will be presented in this very special place." 

In addition to set photos and the props for "Tenenbaums," the exhibition will include a display of Mr. Hamilton's vintage cameras. The exhibit, says the Sag Harbor Cinema, offers it "another opportunity to reflect the dialog between film and other artistic disciplines through the lens of a local, regional artist."

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