|Truly CA: Our State, Our Stories: "Emile Norman: By His Own Design" Press Release|
A New Documentary from Truly CA on KQED Public Television 9
Film Premieres Sunday, October 15 at 6pm
Live screenings at the Mill Valley Film Festival Saturday, October 14 and Sunday, October 15
September 18, 2006, San Francisco, CA -- The newest documentary in KQED's Truly CA series (www.kqed.org/trulyca), Emile Norman: By His Own Design, is a powerful and touching portrait of the self-taught California artist. At age 88, Emile Norman continues to work with the same passion for life, art, nature and freedom that inspired him through seven decades of a changing art scene and turbulent times for a gay man in America. The film shows how his independent spirit developed in his early days on a ranch in the San Gabriel Valley, brought him success in New York City in the '40s and '50s, and gave him the confidence to leave the New York art scene and find freedom in Big Sur. Emile Norman: By His Own Design premieres Sunday, October 15 at 6pm on KQED 9.
Before it airs, audiences will have the chance to see the film live at the 29th annual Mill Valley Film Festival. Emile Norman: By His Own Design will screen Saturday, October 14 at 1pm at the Rafael Film Center, and Sunday, October 15 at 4pm at CineArts@Sequoia before its television premiere on KQED 9. Filmmakers Jill Eikenberry, Michael Tucker and Will Parrinello, as well as Emile himself, are scheduled to appear at the festival.
The documentary chronicles the artist's struggles and triumphs in the artistic world and his own personal life. From the beginning, Emile's natural talent and love of art came into conflict with the conventional ideas of his parents. His sexual drive had to be hidden at a time when "gay" meant "sissy." The film shows Emile's work glittering in Bergdorf's windows, on chorus girls' headdresses in the Fred Astaire movie "Blue Skies," and winning rave reviews at gallery shows, but even then he had to be portrayed as "the California rancher turned artist."
It wasn't until Emile met Brooks Clement, his partner of 30 years, that -- as his long-time friend, costume designer Willa Kim says -- "He didn't just come out of the closet, he burst out!" Brooks was the one who brought Emile's artistic vision to the world. His art -- the four-story window on the Masonic Temple in San Francisco, the bronze sculpture in the Copenhagen National Gallery, the pioneering use of plastics in fine art -- has been compared to the murals of Diego Rivera and the inventive design of Charles and Ray Eames.
As the masses discovered his work, Emile and Brooks were busy creating a private place for themselves and their friends where it was finally safe to be "out." Brooks died of cancer in 1973, but their relationship continues to inspire a new generation. Jeff Mallory and Kevin Smith recently moved into an apartment that Emile built for them in his house. Together they have formed a family that will enable Emile to keep inventing, entertaining and working in his studio until -- as Emile says -- "When I stop working, call 911." Emile Norman: By His Own Design shows how Emile's dedication to his art gave him the power to shape a better life -- and a better world -- out of the one he was given. His legacy isn't just the work he's made; it's the life he's lived, designed and shared with us.
Emile Norman: By His Own Design is directed by Will Parrinello and produced by Jill Eikenberry, Michael Tucker and Will Parrinello in association with KQED Television.
About Truly CA
Truly CA is KQED's series of independent documentaries about life in the Golden State. It airs monthly on Sundays at 6pm on KQED 9. Truly CA is a KQED production presented in association with the Bay Area Video Coalition and Film Arts Foundation. Funding for Truly CA is provided by the KQED Campaign for the Future Program Venture Fund and The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation. Rachel Raney is the series producer; Sue Ellen McCann is the executive producer.
KQED Public Broadcasting operates KQED Public Television 9, one of the nation's most-watched public television stations during prime-time, and KQED's digital television channels, which include KQED HD, KQED Encore, KQED World, KQED Life and KQED Kids; KQED Public Radio, the most-listened-to public radio station in the nation with an award-winning news and public affairs program service (88.5 FM in San Francisco and 89.3 FM in Sacramento); KQED.org, one of the most visited station sites in Public Broadcasting; and KQED Education Network, which brings the impact of KQED to thousands of teachers, students, parents and media professionals through workshops, seminars and resources.
The Bay Area Video Coalition is the nation's largest noncommercial media arts center dedicated to providing access to media, education and technology. BAVC is a production facility, an affordable training center, a pioneer in technology-based workforce development and a critical resource for independent filmmakers.
About Film Arts Foundation
Film Arts Foundation supports the creation and success of independent film and video makers by providing education, comprehensive information, state of the art facilities and equipment, financial support and exhibition opportunities. Film Arts Foundation is a catalyst and advocate for the diverse voices of the independent film community on the West Coast and nationally.