Objectivity and access, issues in documentary filmmaking, are upended in Beth B’s probing and intimate portrait of her complicated mother, the great New York-based artist, Ida Applebroog.
Using new and archival footage and stills, Beth B explores the biography, the work and the enormous intertwining. Applebroog (who chose her surname at a point when neither her birth name, Applebaum, nor her married name, Horowitz, seemed to fit), was born in 1929, raised by Orthodox Jewish parents in a Bronx tenement. She has been endlessly and ferociously drawing, painting, creating artist books and videos for nearly seven decades, dealing with “collective anxieties, sexuality, the representation of the female body.”
Applebroog is shown working in her large studio supported by her assistants, and at several of her exhibitions: Documenta 13 in 2012–forty years of her journals were the basis for a large, compelling installation (“mass excavation of myself and my mind”); at Ron Feldman, her long-time gallery; and at Hauser & Wirth, which now represents her.
The ongoing conversation/interview between mother and daughter as both work in the older woman’s studio, adds a vital layer to the film. At the conclusion, Applebroog, often bristly in interactions with those around her, says, “Thank you for letting me say I what I needed to say (today). ” And as she senses the conversation is turning private (in the film she acknowledges a long history of shyness), she requests, “Close the camera.”
“Call Her Applebroog” will open on Friday, June 10 at Metrograph for a one-week run, and there will be a Q&A with Beth B and Ida Applebroog following both the 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm screenings. On Saturday, June 11, after the 6:00 pm screening, there will be a Q&A with Beth B, Ida Applebroog and composer Jim Coleman.
To coincide with the release of “Call Her Applebroog,” three earlier films directed by Beth B and four films she co-directed with Scott B, will be shown.