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Ode to Marriage, Part II: Herb & Dorothy 50 x 50

Ode to Marriage, Part II: Herb & Dorothy 50 x 50


After my paean to the marriage of artists Noriko and Ushio Shinohara, I watched Herb & Dorothy 50 x 50. Coincidently this film is very much influenced by a Japanese sensibility as it is directed by Megumi Sasaki and will be released by Fine Line Media a film production and distribution company based in New York City which was founded in 2002 by Megumi Sasaki to streamline documentary projects for Japan’s sole public and largest broadcaster NHK and other major networks including Nippon TV and Tokyo Broadcasting Services.

The company produced its first American feature documentary film in 2008 with the award-winning Herb & Dorothy, for which Megumi Sasaki was both director and producer. Herb & Dorothy won numerous awards including the Golden Starfish Award for Best Documentary Film, Audience Awards at the 2008 Hamptons International Film Festival and 2008 SILVERDOCS Film Festival, the Chlotrudis Award for Best Documentary (2009) and the Heartland Truly Moving Picture Award (2009). The film was also given the Museum Store Association Buyers Choice Award in 2010 for Books and Media.  Herb & Dorothy 50 x 50 will be released in North America on September 13th in New York at the IFC Center. The film will then expand with a platform theatrical release to San Francisco on 9/20, Los Angeles on 9/27 and the balance of the top 10 markets throughout October before taking on additional markets nationwide.

Herb & Dorothy enjoyed a successful theatrical release in the U.S. and overseas between 2009-2010. Upcoming in Fall 2013, Fine Line Media, Inc. will release and distribute Herb & Dorothy 50X50, Sasaki’s follow-up film to Herb & Dorothy.

In 2010, Fine Line Media Japan was founded in Tokyo as a subsidiary to distribute Herb & Dorothy directly to theaters in Japan. The film set a box office record with a six-month run in Tokyo in 2010. It moved millions of art-lovers worldwide.  The follow-up film Herb & Dorothy 50X50 set another record in spring 2013 as the largest crowdfunding campaign for creative projects ever conducted in Japan. With this campaign, followed by the successful theatrical release of Herb & Dorothy 50X50 in April 2013, Megumi Sasaki and her two films have opened new doors for Japanese documentary filmmakers.

HERB & DOROTHY 50X50 captures the last chapter of the Vogel’s extraordinary life and their gift to the nation, raising various questions on art, and what it takes to support art in today’s society.

“Herb and Dorothy are unsung American heroes. It is such a delight and honor to be able to complete their life story with HERB & DOROTHY 50X50. Their legacy and contribution have extended far beyond just America or the world of contemporary art. My only regret is Herb didn’t get to see the film. But I know his spirit has been with us this whole way, and I hope the film’s release will be a wonderful tribute to him,” said Megumi Sasaki of Fine LIne Media. INE LINE MEDIA.

The inspiring lives of art collectors Herb and Dorothy Vogel who were known and loved as a retired postal worker (Herb) and librarian (Dorothy) who built a world-class art collection on their humble salaries, once again embody a marriage of true minds.  The Vogels launched a national gift project with the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington DC that constitutes one of the largest gifts in the history of American art: to give a total of 2,500 artworks to museums in all fifty states.

This came sixteen years after the Vogels had transferred their entire collection to NGA, the majority as a gift, making headlines in 1992. During those years at the NGA, the collection had grown to nearly 5,000 pieces, too large for any one museum to contain. As a solution, a national gift project titled The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States was conceived. Though their collection was now worth millions of dollars, the couple did not sell a single piece, instead giving fifty works to one museum in every state. Having worked their whole lives as civil servants, their wish was to give back to the people of the United States.

One year ago, on July 22, 2012, Dorothy declared their collection closed after the passing of her husband Herb. Dorothy works to create a living tribute to their partnership, the collection they created together, and the overwhelmingly positive legacy they have left on the American art world for generations to come.

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