Imber’s Left Hand 2016
Distributed by Distributed by Film Movement
Directed by Directed by Richard Kane
DVD, color, 88 min.
High School - General Adult
Japan, Popular Culture, Music Trade, Singers
Date Entered: 10/26/2018
Reviewed by: Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
As the film opens, a nearly paralyzed man is laboriously painting a large abstract portrait. Each stroke of the paint brush appears to be agonizing and exhausting to the artist. The man is Jon Imber (1950-2014), a prolific American painter who is in the last stages of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Diagnosed 14 months earlier with the progressive neurodegenerative disease, Imber is intent on accepting and exploring his illness by continuing to paint. He trains himself to use his left hand and eventually both hands to enter the most productive and creative phase of his career. The result is more than 200 distinctive still-life, landscape, and portraits. As Imber rapidly deteriorates, director Kane follows the artist to his Somerville, Massachusetts studio, a summer home in Maine, several gallery exhibitions, and a classroom. Even as his physical condition worsens, he continues working, visiting with friends, and teaching. In the film as well as an extended uncut interview included as a bonus feature, Imber fondly recounts both his personal life story as well as his artistic influences, including Cezanne, de Koonig, and Matisse. Surrounded by supportive family and friends, Imber maintains his sense of curiosity, humor, and wonder at the creative process until the end of life. The combination of interviews and an evocative background soundtrack capture both a sorrowful and inspirational story.