Pocket cinema: Death Row Art Star by Aron Ranen

June 30, 2010

What serial killers and the art of illustration have in common? Well, you will get the answer from a short documentary film Death Row Art Star by independent filmmaker Aron Ranen… Ranen’s film competed in the short film selection at IDFA -International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in 2005.

death_row_art_star.jpgScreenshots from Death Row Art Star by Aron Ranen (c)

Death Row Art Star is a story, told in a tearing rush, about prison art, but more particularly it is a portrait of the unusual patroness and publisher of this art. In addition to her photo studio, the 70-year-old religious glamour photographer Audrey runs a small publishing company. She collects art made by prisoners and puts it in a magazine that sells like hotcakes to inmates all across the country.

The contributions include work by America’s cruellest serial killers, who have now repented. The most popular drawings are those by Alfredo Valdez; not a serial killer, but still one of the many inmates on death row in San Quentin prison. Audrey receives a lot of fan mail for Valdez through the magazine. The fact that she changes parts of Valdez’s drawings now and then and adds a picture of Jesus Christ does not seem to bother anyone.

Since the 1970s, Aron Ranen has been active as an underground documentary filmmaker with a penchant for special cases. Previously, he exposed spiritual healers, and in Did We Go? he examined whether Apollo 11 actually landed on the moon. He is an Award winning documentary filmmaker who has received two fellowships from the National Endowment for the arts and a Golden Cine Eagle award.  He was selected for the 2001 DV Underground fest, winner of the best short documentary at the SF Indie Fest and his recent full length documentary “Did We Go?” was selected for the 2000 new documentary series at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City.  (bio and synopsis taken from IDFA)

Part 1

Part 2

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