Regarding Susan Sontag
Here is the documentary everyone has been waiting for – the definitive film essay on Susan Sontag. Nancy Kates has interviewed all the important surviving friends and lovers, as well as many of the writers, artists and critics Sontag brushed up against during her long and famous career as New York’s number one feisty female intellectual. At the centre of the film, appropriately enough, is Sontag herself. She was an extraordinarily beautiful woman, and during the course of her working life gave many interviews on camera, both in English and French, which have been artfully gathered together to form the core of this new documentary. Enrolled in Berkeley at the age of fifteen, Sontag moved rapidly through a succession of universities – Chicago, Harvard, Oxford and Columbia – garnering prizes and fellowships along the way. The film captures, very precisely, her charm and magnetism, and also her formidable articulacy. Though it has been common knowledge for some time that Sontag was bisexual, Kates’s film shows, definitively and sympathetically, how much her real attraction was towards women and lesbianism. The underground world of “camp” (which she analysed so brilliantly in her writings) was something she knew about from firsthand experience of the gay scene. This is altogether a fascinating documentary: a scintillating evocation of a city, an epoch – and a zeitgeist.
Nancy Kates is a renowned American director. Since graduating from Stanford University in 1995, she has filmed numerous documentary films, including Their Own Vietnam (1995) and Castro Cowboy (1992). For her documentary Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin (2003) about the homosexual civil rights activist, she garnered many awards including the GLAAD Media Award. In addition to her directorial projects, she also works as a producer, author and consultant for numerous documentary films and regularly lectures at film schools and universities.