Movie Synopsis

Oscar nomination for Nan Goldin film All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed was nominated for Best Documentary at this year’s Academy Awards. The 2022 film explores the career of Nan Goldin and the fall from grace of the Sackler pharmaceutical family. Laura Poitras, the film’s director, said, “Nan’s artistry and vision have inspired my work for years and influenced generations of filmmakers.” The film premiered on September 3, 2022 at the 79th Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion was awarded. This makes it the second documentary (after Sacro GRA in 2013) to win the main prize in Venice. It was also screened at the 2022 New York Film Festival, where it was the centerpiece of the festival and for which Goldin designed two official posters. The film was released to theaters by Neon on November 23, 2022.

Nan’s art and vision have inspired my work for years – Director Laura Poitras

Synopsis: The film explores the life and career of photographer and activist Nan Goldin and her efforts to blame the opioid epidemic on Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family. Goldin, a well-known photographer whose work has often documented the LGBT subcultures and the HIV/AIDS crisis, founded the advocacy group PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) in 2017 after her oxycontin addiction, which left her with a near-fatal overdose. PAIN specifically targets museums and other arts institutions to hold the arts community accountable for their collaboration with the Sackler family and their publicized financial support of art. Since PAIN’s activities, most affected museums have severed all ties with the Sackler family, and in 2021 Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy.

The film is divided into seven chapters, each beginning with a photographic sequence or archival footage from a section of Goldin’s life, and then moving on to footage of her recent protests with PAIN. The slideshow made from stock photos is reminiscent of Goldin’s work in creating slideshows or image series, such as The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. Footage of PAIN demonstrations includes his first protest of 2018 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Dendur Temple and similar demonstrations at the Louvre and Guggenheim Museums. Goldin is the film’s main narrator, with additional interviews from collaborators including journalist Patrick Radden Keefe and PAIN member Megan Kapler.

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• Nan Goldin
• Patrick Radden Keefe
• Megan Kapler

Production: Goldin and two other activists had been filming their activities with PAIN for two years to make a documentary about the activist group. Goldin then approached the film’s production company to turn the footage into a film. Laura Poitras suggested that Goldin direct the film, based on Poitras’ work on Astro Noise for the Whitney Museum. However, Goldin was initially skeptical about Poitras’ previous political films, saying, “I thought they wouldn’t be interested in me because I don’t have any state secrets.”

Goldin has stated that most of the film’s footage and photos come directly from her. However, Poitras expanded Goldin’s vision for the project and opted to make a fuller film about Goldin’s life and career. These biographical elements include Goldin’s sister’s suicide, Goldin’s drug use and sex work, which she had never published before, and her artistic career and achievements. Goldin was initially uncomfortable with allowing Poitras to be in control of the film and the portrayal of her life, but was pleased with the finished film. Goldin said Poitras “told my story with my voice, but it’s not exactly my version of how I would tell it. But she was great at giving me a lot of leverage over what gets used and what doesn’t.”

Release: The film premiered at the 79th Venice International Film Festival on September 3, 2022, where it was awarded the Golden Lion. It screened at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival on September 9. Shortly thereafter, Poitras criticized both the Venice and Toronto festivals for showing a Hillary Clinton-produced film In Her Hands. Poitras said she was “disturbed” by Clinton’s presence at the festivals, adding, “Hillary Clinton was actively involved in the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. She supported the escalation of troops.” It was also screened at the 2022 New York Film Festival, the festival’s flagship film.

In August 2022, ahead of its Venice premiere, Neon acquired the US distribution rights to the film, while Altitude Film Distribution took over the UK and Ireland rights. In September 2022, HBO Documentary Films acquired television and streaming rights to the film. The film was released to theaters by Neon on November 23, 2022. The film coincides with This Will Not End Well, a retrospective of Goldin’s work at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet, which opened on October 29, 2022.

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