DIFF 2010 Review: Bill Cunningham and Friday Night

12 04 2010


“Every day, I get up and I dress myself because of him,”

– Patrick McDonald.

Patrick McDonald –


and so many other famous New York fashion celebrities can point to one man for there fame.  Bill Cunningham has been covering fashion on the streets of New York City (and Paris) for the past 50 years.  The octogenarian has become an icon in the fashion world.  Director Richard Press and Producer Philip Gefter spent 8 years trying to get to know the reclusive legend.  The men catch a glimpse that has never been seen of Bill Cunningham.  The filmmakers chronicled Bill’s friends, co-workers, and subjects.   To be able to gain access the gentlemen first had to crack the hard protective shell that Bill has spent his life building around himself.

Bill’s work ethic is unchallenged and mythic in its own right.


In the fashion world Bill is more than iconic he is totally beloved and the power of his choice to shoot you is unmistakable.  He takes his work so seriously that his style and pace are unmatched.  You won’t see pictures of Bill eating on the job or taking a break.  He is always working.

Bill lives in a small artist’s studio in the legendary Carnegie Hall Tower.  He shares a full floor with his good friend and fellow fashion photography icon Editta Sherman.  The film chronicles the recent change in stance of the rent-control for these NYC icon’s apartments and is forcing some of them to move.  Bill and Editta were part of that force out.  This battle goes on right now and the filmmakers gave us an eye into the complexity of the move.  It was hard enough for the two of them to even see Bill’s current apartment.

The film does a masterful job of showing Bill’s routine, but even access to Bill’s craft and art was a tough obstacle for Richard and Philip.

Richard and Philip were able to show us all of Bill’s amazing ability, ethics and strong will.  They tried to show us more though.  The parts of the film that really made me and everyone there emotional had to do with Boston.  Bill’s past is something that is vague and guarded.  He has been one of the longest tenured members of any American paper and yet his Wiki page is merely four paragraphs.  If it took so long for the filmmakers to go film him at night and get to see his routine, how hard was it to open up Bill’s past?

It took 4 months just to get a picture from Bill.


The screenings took place on DIFF opening night and on Friday night at the Dallas Museum of Art (the screening I went to).  The world premiere took place only a few weeks ago at the Modern Museum of Art in NYC.  Guess how Bill handled the whole occasion.

So far this film has been one of the true highlights of the festival.  Being able to see it at the Horchow Auditorium just amplified the whole experience.  There are a few more screenings at the DMA and I highly recommend you go check out those films.  Also check out this film’s




One response

29 12 2011
“These Go To Eleven!”, PSD’s Best Films of 2011. « Pearl Snap Discount

[…] a hermit-like man with a soft and talented side.  I left this documentary, after seeing it at DIFF 2010, being blown away how this small-man with his camera, riding New York on his bike, captured so much […]

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