Derek Jarman: Life as Art

2004 | AIDS/HIV / Arts & Literature / Biography/History / Censorship / Documentary / Media Studies / Pop Culture / Representation / Sexuality / Social Issues | 60m | UK
Directors: Andy Kimpton-Nye

Derek Jarman was one of the UK's most talented, innovative and controversial independent filmmakers, making significant films such as Caravaggio and Wittgenstein . He was also a hugely talented painter, writer, and gardener; and following his HIV+ diagnosis became an ardent activist for gay rights. He only made the films he wanted to make, giving voice to his vision of the world as a gay man, a lover of high art and Super-8. He died in 1994.

Derek Jarman: Life as Art explores the rich and colorful life and loves of Jarman through the entertaining, insightful, and thought-provoking recollections and perspectives of some of Jarman's closest friends, family and colleagues including Tilda Swinton, Christopher Hobbs, James Mackay, Simon Fisher Turner, Nigel Terry, Tariq Ali, Peter Tatchell and Jill Balcon.

Gorgeous looking slow-motion Super-8 shots of the contributors act as cut-aways, bringing the influence of Jarman’s stylistic look to the documentary. Clips and stills from his films and previously unseen footage of Jarman directing Wittgenstein give a clear feel for the anarchy, color, imagery, and poetry of the man and his work.

A 400Blows/VET Production

Reviews and Awards

“British filmmaker Derek Jarman could certainly be cited as one of the most exciting and controversial independent filmmakers of the past two decades. Derek Jarman: Life as Art does a wonderful job of introducing us to this complex, brilliant artist. Viewers will find included in this engaging documentary, clips from Jarman’s most familiar films as well as informative interviews with many of his creative accomplices. Certain to provoke dialogue given Jarman’s consistent challenges to cinematic conventions, his portrayals of queer life historically and cinematically and the overt politicization of his subject matter. Will be of interest to classes in Queer studies, Cinema Studies and Cultural Studies.”—Cade Bursell, Filmmaker and Assistant Professor of Cinema, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Derek Jarman: Life as Art uses interviews with Jarman’s closest collaborators to provide a compelling biography that situates his multifaceted works into a singular artistic vision, and is essential viewing for anyone interested in experimental cinema, gay and lesbian cinema, and British film history.”—Chris Robé, Assistant Professor of Film and Multimedia Studies, Florida Atlantic University