Monday, 21 June 2010

Long Play - Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

Joan Rivers
Joan Rivers
"One of the most truthful documentaries about show business I've seen. Also maybe the funniest" - Roger Ebert

"Sharp and irresistable. Rip-roaring...She's the comedian as teller of uproariously toxic, gutbucket truths as surely as Lenny Bruce or Richard Pryor ever were." - Entertainment Weekly

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) presents a Long Play season of the revealing documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010) straight from its award-winning screenings on the international film festival circuit. The film takes a look at the private and public life of the legendary comedian Joan Rivers, one of the most hilarious and hard working women in show business.

Following Rivers over the course of her 76th year, renowned documentarians Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg are given unguarded access to River's life. 

The film combines intimate scenes and archive footage to offer insight into Rivers' private dramas both past and present. Stripped of her performance masks, Rivers lays bare the emotional mix of self-doubt and anger that often fuels her comedic process. 

Rivers' story is one of contradictions, mixing brutal honesty with laugh-out-loud humour while exposing the ruthlessness of the entertainment business, the darker side of success and fame, and overturning everything you think you might know about the first lady of comedy.

Since her taboo-breaking emergence in the mid-60s- as one of the few woman comedians - Rivers' has made a career for more than forty years out of poking fun at herself and at others. Amongst her long list of credits, Rivers was the first female guest host of The Tonight Show, was given and lost her own TV program, has toured the world, created a brand in her likeness, written books and made millions of people laugh - and that's just for starters.

The film also touches on Rivers' personal tragedies, including the 1987 suicide of her husband and business partner Edgar Rosenberg, being frozen out by one of her earliest supporters Johnny Carson, and presently, as her longtime manager, Billy Sammeth puts it, "people have come to see her as a plastic-surgery freak who's past her sell-by date".

Even in her late seventies Rivers shows no sign of slowing down or retiring.

In the year documente by Stern and Sunberg, Rivers works on innumerable projects with seemingly tireless drive. These include preparing and performing a play based on her life, doing stand-up routines large and small, competing with her daughter on Celebrity Apprentice and appearing at the Kennedy Center tribute to George Carlin, while she fights to keep her career alive and her appointment book full.

ACMI Film Programmer Kristy Matheson says, "Stern and Sundberg's new film easily lives up to the power and scope of their previous documentaries, they don't shy away from the tough subjects and in doing so have allowed their subject to really shine through. Funny, genuinely insightful and a great talking point, this film is a real revelation for fans and Joan Rivers detractors alike."

Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg are both directors, producers and writers. They co-directed the documentary The Devil Came on Horseback (2007) a tale of the Darfur genocide. The film has won over seven festival awards, including Best International Film at Brit Docs. They both also co-directed and co-produced the award-winning documentary The Trials of Darryl Hunt (2006) about a man who spent 20 years in prison for a brutal rape/murder he did not commit, it was a 2007 Independent Spirit Award nominee for Best Documentary and has won more than twenty festival awards to date.

The Long Play season of Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work will screen Thursday 9 September - Monday 27 September, 2010.

More information and session times on the website soon.

Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, 90 mins, USA, 2010, Digital Betacam. Courtesy: Madman Entertainment.

Further information

Samantha Chater
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2475 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 655
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