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Artist as the Perennial Subject of Films

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Why can't the muse and real life get along?

“He wants to be normal, he just doesn't know what that means."

The life of the artist has long been romanticized and debunked, portrayed in turn as full of glamour, inner torment, the high life and low fortunes. This year's Los Angeles Film Festival features a number of documentaries that explore la vie bohme from many angles.

Among the art-themed selections screening are the films “Finishing Heaven," “The Art of Failure: Chuck Connelly Not for Sale" and “Dirty Hands: The Art & Crimes of David Choe." Taken together, they form a fascinating, multifaceted portrait of how artistic drive can interfere with everyday life. The directors of all three films will take part in a documentary round table this afternoon (for details: lafilmfest.com).

“Artists are a perennial subject of film, especially documentary," said Rachel Rosen, director of programming for the LAFF. “The unusual thing is that a number of them rose above the crowd in the same year. And I don't think it's only because several of them are about artists who have a difficult time either with their art or their life or both."

“Finishing Heaven" follows would-be filmmaker Robert Feinberg as he attempts to complete a movie he shot some three decades earlier. His leading lady and former girlfriend, Ruby Lynn Reyner, reenters Feinberg's life to become a catalyst for him to try to finish this long-simmering project.

The up-to-now unfinished film - which will also screen as a work-in- progress during the LAFF under the title “Heaven Wants Out" - was shot in New York in 1970 featuring some habitus of the Warhol milieu, making the surviving footage - if nothing else - a startling time capsule of its time and place.

“The whole film is a character study of an argument," said director Mark Mann, trying to characterize the relationships that emerged not only between Feinberg and Reyner but also between the filmmakers and the subjects, and even among the filmmakers themselves.

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