The Paper Mirror

2012 | Arts & Literature / Biography/History / Documentary / Lesbian | 34m | USA
Directors: Charissa King-O'Brien

In the winter of 2010, Alison Bechdel is entrenched in the process of writing “Are You My Mother,” a hauntingly personal graphic memoir about her mother, and a follow up of sorts to 2006’s award-winning “Fun Home.” Known best for her decades-long comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For,” Bechdel’s artistry is in a transitional phase, as is world-renowned painter Riva Lehrer’s, as she moves from art focusing on disabilities into other subjects.

Charissa King O'Brien’s intimate short documentary captures this pivotal collaboration between two influential artists, as Lehrer completes a compelling portrait of Bechdel over the course of two years, yielding a highly satisfying work of psychological insight.

Reviews and Awards

“One of The Paper Mirror’s strengths is its depiction of Bechdel at an interesting career crossroads. The cartoonist may have followed up the ending of her long-running comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For” with her well-received graphic memoir “Fun Home.” Yet it’s clear her discomfort at dealing with her thorny relationship with her mother has hampered her ability to complete her follow-up graphic novel. The brassy Lehrer provides a wonderful counterpoint to Bechdel. The painter is someone who can turn wearing rainbow shoelaces into an act of defiance. More importantly, her process of creating the painting triggers some new sense of creative awareness in the cartoonist. The end result of the two women’s artistic collaboration yields a highly satisfying work of psychological insight. —Peter Wong, from Beyond Chron, San Francisco’s Alternative Online Daily

“Sure to be appreciated by Bechdel's legion of fans, this is recommended.” —Video Librarian, Sept/Oct 2013