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TC Doc Series: George Kachadorian on Shooting Beauty

Director George Kachadorian gives us the skinny on his film Shooting Beauty, about a unique photographer doing great things in the world. Join us for a screening April 15 at the TC Doc Series.


Shooting Beauty tells the inspirational story of an aspiring fashion photographer named Courtney Bent, whose career takes an unexpected turn when she discovers a hidden world of beauty at a center for people living with significant disabilities. Shot over the span of a decade, this film puts you in Courtney's shoes as she overcomes her own unspoken prejudices and begins inventing cameras accessible to her new friends. The film, which is screening at Tribeca Cinemas Doc Series on April 15, will change what you thought you knew about living with a disability—and without one.


Director George Kachadorian gives us the scoop on Courtney, his film, why it's a Tribeca must-see. Please describe the story you tell in your film. What inspired you to tell that story?


George Kachadorian: Shooting Beauty tells the real life story of an aspiring fashion photographer whose life is changed forever when she discovers true beauty in a truly unexpected place. Can you tell us a little about Courtney?


I met Courtney when she was doing a long term photo essay about an old man who looked amazingly like Popeye (the Sailor Man) in Rockport, Maine. In fact, the locals all called him Popeye. Courtney made him a ramp when he got too old to use his stairs—and helped him pick up the pieces after he got mugged by a bunch of drunk hooligans. When we moved into an apartment together in Boston, she began exploring a new community—and luckily, I gave her a camera to videotape the adventure from the beginning.


To sum up, Courtney is a photographer, a natural teacher, the woman I asked to marry me. She is also the founder of the Shooting Beauty Photography Project, and the focus of the film Shooting Beauty.


Courtney Bent & George Kachadorian: Shooting Beauty
Making documentaries is not an easy road. What was the biggest challenge in getting your film made? How did you overcome it?


We started out with no experience really—it was a big experiment. We dreamed that maybe we would make a movie out of the footage some day. It was a bit of a pipe dream at the time... but as the technology came down to the desktop, and we stubbornly refused to give up, the grant rejections started stinging less and less and we decided we would do it ourselves. Of course, I would need to learn how to edit first... If we had been given a budget and hired people to finish the thing, we would have been done in 2002. But instead we just kept chipping away until we ended up with something we were happy with. What's up next for you as a director?


Shooting Beauty is unlike any film project I've ever worked on because it's so much more than just a movie to us. We have lived this film for most of our adult lives and we plan to spend the next few years making sure that the message gets out there. Already, before our official release, our schedule is filling up with community and educational screenings around the U.S. and abroad. The response has been so tremendous from middle school students and parents and college kids—we're not sure exactly where it's going, but there is no getting off this ride at the moment.


We have some ideas for our next production—and a television series or two—that we will be developing over the coming year as we release Shooting Beauty. In the meantime, I am also keeping a toe in the freelance TV production world. What do you currently find most inspiring in today's film world?


This may make me sound old, but I am still inspired by the Internet's impact on indie filmmaking in particular. Using web 2.0 tools, even a tiny fish like me can make a film and get it out there


Shooting Beauty What makes Shooting Beauty a Doc Series must-see?


I wish I could tell you exactly why audiences and critics are relating so powerfully to this film. But here's what the initial reviewers are saying:

There are few times in cinema history that one is swept away with a wave of emotions and taken on a journey that is so unique... The films that come to mind: “Elephant Man,” “Cinema Paradiso,” “Life is Beautiful”... and that is exactly what “Shooting Beauty” does with one exception—it is not scripted... [—Quick Stop]


One of the most moving films of the year... transforms your feelings, attitudes and opinions in real time... Films like this should be ‘required viewing’ for the whole world. [—Jamise Liddell, Action Films]


While a picture is worth a thousand words, the film Shooting Beauty—the tale of photographer Courtney Bent, who gave cameras to disabled adults in hopes of giving them a voice—will leave you speechless. It is more than a film; it is an emotional transformation, and one not to be missed... [a] masterpiece... [—New England]


The story is similar to those happening right now in nearly every city in America and around the world for that matter. We just happened to be lucky enough to be able to capture this one on film. And the reactions we have seen—not just clapping but real roll-up-your-sleeves action—have been incredible. Shooting Beauty is about discovering the beauty that lies right in front of you, and seeing that happen over the course of this film can be a moving experience for folks.


Here's a blog one woman wrote after a screening.


Also, check out our Facebook wall to see some comments from people who have attended screenings lately...


To date, the movie has won seven top audience awards at film festivals around the U.S, while the reviewers are calling it "miraculous," a "masterpiece", and according to one newspaper, the "2009 Film of the Year." After seeing the film, Cheryl Hines, who plays Larry David's wife on the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm, signed on to help get the word out there as its "official presenter." (She's awesome, by the way.) Meanwhile, her sister just signed on to help us complete the Teacher's Guide:


, April 15, 2010
7:30 pm

Director George Kachadorian and Producer Courtney Bent will both be in attendance.
The Tribeca Cinemas bar will be open before and after the screening—stop in for a drink and mingle with other movie lovers.

*Please note: This Thursday screening deviates from the regular Monday schedule for the TC Doc Series.


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