At the Venice Film Festival this past September, Abel Ferrara premiered his latest entry in a prolific career spanning cult classics, gems, and even a few notable misfires. In “Sportin’ Life,” an experimental documentary fully funded by fashion house Saint Laurent, Ferrara takes an intimate look at his own life and work, with his pal and frequent star Willem Dafoe along for the ride. Shot mostly around the time Ferrara and Dafoe were promoting their film “Siberia” at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year, the documentary has yet to secure distribution. But, exclusive to IndieWire, you can watch the hour-long film in its entirety below.
“I have been shooting predominately documentaries the past 10 years or so. Whatever the subject — Piazza Vittorio, Padre Pio — we also film the process itself…. so our team and I are a part of it,” Ferrara said in a statement about the film. “The subject of my new documentary is the relationship I have to my work, to Willem Dafoe, and my music and art. These relationships are the starting point and I could not avoid facing what the world went through this year with the pandemic.”
“These days, Ferrara’s fiction films rarely go far beyond the festival circuit, even those starring his friend and frequent collaborator Dafoe. It’s been some time since the likes of ‘Bad Lieutenant’ and ‘King of New York’ reached a wider audience. But seeing Ferrara and Dafoe shooting the breeze is so entertaining,” wrote IndieWire in our review out of the Venice Film Festival.
“Most of the documentary was shot while Ferrara was promoting his last film with Dafoe, ‘Siberia,’ at the Berlin Film Festival in February. Not that he bothers to explain that with anything as commonplace as captions or voiceovers. All the film offers is the chance to hang out with Ferrara for a while, seeing what he got up to this year, and hearing what was on his mind; if you don’t fancy doing that, well, he obviously couldn’t care less.” And that’s part of the pleasure of this unusual slice of nonfiction.
Directed by Ferrara and produced by Saint Laurent creative director Anthony Vaccarello, “Sportin’ Life” features cinematography by Sean Price Williams. Watch the film below.