As we’re gearing up for the release of our third feature documentary, The Art of the Steal, I already feel like we’ve been on such a ride. Unlike a narrative, when you make a documentary, you never really know where the story will take you. You think you have an idea, but the best stories with the most amazing characters often take you in surprisingly unexpected directions. That certainly was the case with The Art of the Steal. What began as an exploration into the controversy surrounding the proposed 4.6 mile move of the Barnes Foundation, a private art school and gallery filled with over $25 billion worth of post-impressionist and early modern art, turned into a political, philanthropic, and thrilling art heist whodunit.
There’s also a weird feeling when you first show a film to an audience. Will they like it? Am I too close? Does this even make sense? Well, although the butterflies are still there, I’m more excited than nervous to see what audiences think when it hits theaters beginning on February 26th. Our first debut was at the Toronto International Film Festival, where we were lucky enough to be picked up by IFC Films under the Sundance Selects banner. I was proud of what we’d done, but didn’t realize what an emotional process this was until we got a standing ovation at TIFF. Our next stop was the New York Film Festival, where we screened at Alice Tulley Halll in Lincoln Center, before a sold out crowd of over 1,100. The Q & A that followed the screening was the liveliest of which I’ve ever been a part. People were actually screaming at us, in support of us, at some of the people who appear in the film, and even at each other! We knew we hit a nerve, and were so excited to see something on which we spent two years of our life generating such great debate.
The ride continued on to AFI Fest in Los Angeles, and we were honored to be included. More lively debates followed each screening at our Q & As, and interest was sparked in not only our film, but also the Barnes Foundation. The ride and the controversy continue, and I’m just happy that we were able to finally bring attention back to the one thing that’s been forgotten in this whole debate—Dr. Barnes. Try to see the fight, as we did, through his eyes, and you might even have a new perspective on a controversial subject.