Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters

Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters

Directed by: Ben Shapiro
77 minutes

New England Premiere

Photographer Gregory Crewdson “makes pictures,” as he calls it, in the western Massachusetts towns of Pittsfield, Lee, and surrounding areas. If the way he describes his artwork sounds like a throwback to old-fashioned moviemaking, that could be because of the cinematic nature of his work: Crewdson regularly shuts down streets and rallies a crew of art department technicians in pursuit of one photograph of a dreamy, manufactured landscape. His multilayered, highly detailed work depicts surreal, mysterious scenes that belie their suburban settings. But while his techniques are large in scale, the emotions they convey are deeply intimate, as is his connection to the western Massachusetts locations where he is greeted, contradictorily, as both a celebrity and a local.

Director Ben Shapiro has filmed Crewdson for more than a decade, accompanying him on several of the sets for Beneath the Roses, his most ambitious and lengthy project. Despite the often morbid nature of his work, Crewdson himself seems remarkably well adjusted and infinitely patient, if obsessive about perfecting each detail of a picture: a character trait that is tested repeatedly by the uncontrollable. From fussy infants to overpowering sunlight to uncooperative snowplows, chaos always threatens—but Crewdson persists in his pursuit of the perfect moment in time.

—Kristina Aikens