Andrew Shea’s art doc ‘Portrait of Wally,’ which documents the tug-of-war surrounding a controversial Egon Schiele painting, played at Tribeca Saturday night, and earned some strong early reviews:
It’s the rare film about art that warrants the warning label “bombshell,” but “Portrait of Wally” isn’t just about stolen art: It’s about cultural skulduggery, political sleaze, institutional hypocrisy and the virtues of persistence. Turning over rocks in and around the New York art world, helmer Andrew Shea finds a lot of ugly stuff while chronicling what amounts to a 60-year hostage drama centered around the Egon Schiele oil painting that gives the film its title. Docu may have a tough time breaking out of its art niche, but will scandalize auds who take the plunge.
A blow-by-blow account of an art-world scandal with far-reaching implications, Andrew Shea’s Portrait of Wally may be too narrowly focused for some viewers, but offers an engaging narrative and high-profile subject that should attract audiences at fests and in specialized theatrical bookings.
Here’s the LAT’s 2005 coverage of the case: and NPR’s original audio report by David D’Arcy, one of the film’s producers, who stopped working for NPR afterwards, complete with subsequent MoMA-dictated “corrections.”
Meanwhile the festival announced its audience awards for documentary and narrative films. They went to “BURN,” about Detroit firefighters, and “Any Day Now,” a family drama about two men in the 70s, respectively. The festival ends Sunday.