Tuesday, 21 December 2010
First Look: Smash His Camera
"A highly entertaining portrait of a undeniably unique show-business character." Hollywood Reporter
Smash His Camera
"Gast's documentary has an effortless charm, aided greatly by Galella, who is quite the character." Eye For Film
As part of its First Look program, this February the Australian Centre for the Moving Image screens 2010 Sundance Film Festival award winning documentary, Smash His Camera (2010), from Academy Award®-winning director Leon Gast.
The film takes a look at the nature of celebrity, this time putting the focus on the man behind the camera - notorious paparazzo Ron Galella - who throughout his 50 year career gained infamy for a series of run-ins with high profile celebrities.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis took Galella to court several times after he followed both her and her children obsessively for years, employing aggressive tactics like jumping out of bushes to capture the ultimate photo. The court cases that followed set precedents in court in privacy law with Onassis successfully obtaining restraining orders on Galella.
Marlon Brando responded to Galella's antics with a punch to the jaw that saw him lose five teeth. It resulted in Brando paying him US $40,000 in an out-of-court settlement with Galella continuing to photograph him wearing a football helmet.
Dubbed "the Godfather of the U.S paparazzi culture" by Time and Vanity Fair, Galella knows every trick in the paparazzi rulebook, from sneaking into events to dressing inconspicuously so that he blends in with the crowd.
Regarded as an artist at one end of the spectrum and a parasite at the other, Galella is something of an anomaly as a paparazzi photographer. Whilst his behaviour once saw him take a serious beating by Richard Burton's bodyguards, he's also been made an honorary citizen of the Basilicata region in Italy where his father was born.
ACMI Film Programmer Kristy Matheson says "Smash His Camera is a fascinating look at how the nature of fame and the public's consumption of celebrity culture have evolved, all seen through the course of one man's career."
Named after movie idol Ronald Colman, Galella was born in the United States in 1931. He began his career as a U.S. Air Force photographer and then obtained a degree in photojournalism. While Galella still works as a photographer today, it's mainly on formal red carpet events and for the promotion of his books and gallery shows.
Taking out the U.S. Directing Award for Documentary at this year's Sundance Film Festival, Smash His Camera continues the acclaimed work of Leon Gast, who directed the Oscar-winning film When We Were Kings (1996).
Gast says, "Ron views his life's work as virtuous, ethical, heroic and couldn't give a rat's ass what others might think. He strongly believes he has a Constitutional right and a moral obligation as a distinguished artist to pursue his art - celebrity photography - on his terms, not theirs."
The First Look season of Smash His Camera will screen Thursday 3 February until Sunday 6 February, 2011.
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