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Los Angeles Film Critics Award Gianvito’s ‘Her Socialist Smile’

john gianviot with film reels behind him
Professor John Gianvito

Her Socialist Smile, Visual and Media Arts Professor John Gianvito’s documentary about Helen Keller’s advocacy for progressive causes, won the Douglas Edwards Experimental Film Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), Variety reports.

In a September 2020 interview with Emerson Today, Gianvito said he was struck by how relevant Keller’s ideas are today, as well as by how little-known her political and advocacy work is.

Read: Gianvito’s ‘Her Socialist Smile’ Debuting at New York Film Festival

“While beginning to explore this as a potentially fertile subject for a film, I was surprised when I kept coming up empty-handed when looking for relevant archival film, photographic, or audio materials about this part of Keller’s life — particularly strange, given how internationally famous she had become at such a young age. The reasons for the disappearance of such materials are many, some of which I explain in the final film, but there came a time when I abandoned the project, thinking that there just weren’t enough cinematic elements to tell this story,” Gianvito told Emerson Today.

“Eventually however, I heard a voice in my head saying to me, ‘So you want to make a film about the most renowned blind/deaf woman, and you have no images and no sounds – that’s actually an interesting creative problem, and you shouldn’t shy away from it.’  What, exactly, my solutions were have to be experienced by viewing the film, but it was at that point that I began in earnest, with the film organically finding its form over the three-year period of production.”

Variety called the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards “one of the most important critics groups in the awards season.”

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