Documentary On Film Critic Pauline Kael Needs Your Help

By  · Published on July 10th, 2015

29 Pictures

My favorite documentary of last year is about a film critic – Life Itself, the biographical portrait of Roger Ebert made during his final days – so I’m anxious and hopeful about a new project devoted to one of Ebert’s most well-known colleagues. What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, and while it doesn’t have as notable a director behind it, the film does promise a lot of great interviews. In the campaign video below you can already see that Quentin Tarantino, David O. Russell, John Boorman and James Toback have already sat down to discuss the Kael’s work and influence. Paul Schrader, Robert Towne, Francis Ford Coppola and Alec Baldwin are also already in the can.

The director is Rob Garver, who has no other IMDb credits but he has made nonfiction and fiction shorts that can be found on Vimeo. From his pitch to the crowd, it’s clear this is a personal project for the guy, as he focuses on having grown up a fan of Kael’s writings. The Kickstarter page describes What She Said as more than just a biographical doc, aiming also for a “character study” and a look at cinema seen through her point of view on the movies. It will also address her influence on film, filmmakers and of course film critics. Other interviewees include fellow writers David Edelstein, Stephanie Zacharek, Carrie Rickey and Greil Marcus.

Hopefully this will turn out to be at least half the quality of Life Itself, but I do wonder if this is an unfortunate week for a doc about Kael seeking $75k. With the folding of The Dissolve, there’s a bleak outlook on the future of film criticism, and who knows if there’s enough support for the past of film criticism. Are there enough Paulettes out there to help fund this thing?

Check out an extended trailer for What She Said from a year ago featuring Baldwin, Schrader and Edelstein.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.