Art, Events January 19, 2011 By Sarah Coleman

A lot of people tend to create that kind of mythology around her work. The revelation for me was her work was a profound source of joy to her. She wasn’t a tragic artist crying out for help with her work–rather, it was a healing force for her. Of course she went through periods when she had extreme doubts, but her work gave her solace and substance. And actually, one thing I thought one thing I could do in a film that you can’t do in a museum or gallery was to present her life through its own chronology. When you go to an exhibition there’s a little biography at the beginning, so you know the tragic circumstances of her life before you see the images, and your viewing of the images is affected by it. By letting the narrative unfold organically, viewers who are new to the work see it for what it is before they learn about the tragedy.

In the film, you use excerpts from Francesca’s diaries to show us her thoughts and feelings. What was it like to go through that material and choose passages to excerpt?
One of the biggest pleasures and delights of directing this film was that I got to know Francesca in a remarkable way by absorbing her diaries. I found that there were dark passages in them, but there was also a lot of delight in the way Francesca articulated her feelings about her work. At first I didn’t know how to use the material. Then my editor Jeff Warner, a brilliant editor, came up with the idea of using lines from the diaries as if they were dialogue, placing them in the film almost as if Francesca is commenting on the film. We stopped worrying about getting the chronology exact, and instead lifted out themes and gave Francesca a voice in the film, which was something we really wanted to do.

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