Next week (October
15) marks the world premier of Disfarmer, the documentary on the life of Mike
Disfarmer, the noted Arkansas photographer.
documentary discovers the once unknown portrait photographer, his influence on
the modern Manhattan art world, and the legacy he left behind in his hometown
of Heber Springs.
documentary is being shown as part of The 19th Hot Springs Documentary
Over 100 documentary films are
screened in the historic Malco Theatre Oct. 15-24 during this festival in Hot
Springs. It is the oldest documentary film festival in the U.S. and the Malco
Theatre, built in 1935, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Disfarmer (1884-1959) gained notoriety for capturing an honest
representation of rural life. He captured the lives and emotions of the
people of rural America from 1939 to 1945, a defining time in history in which
the Great Depression yielded to World War II. He used residents of Heber Springs
as his subjects.
photographer was born as Mike Meyer in 1884, the sixth of seven children in a
German immigrant farming family in Cleburne County. He rejected farm life and
his family by legally changing his name to “Dis – Farmer.” The
eccentric Arkansas artist taught himself photography perhaps also as a way to
escape farm life. After a tornado in the 1930s destroyed his family home where
he had worked, he built a studio on Heber Springs’ Main Street and became a
professional photographer. Using glass plates, he shot his subjects in direct
north light creating compelling intimacy.
black and white portraits have been described as “a classical episode in
the history of American photography.” His works are included in the
permanent collections of the New York Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan
Museum of Art, The Arkansas Arts Center Museum and the International Center of
Photography in New York City. Disfarmer’s photography has also been exhibited
in museums and galleries throughout Europe and the U.S. His work still
has an affect today. Jazz guitarist Bill Frisell recently recorded an album,
called Disfarmer, inspired by
the photographer’s work. For more information on the photographer, check out: www.disfarmer.com
For more details on the festival,
film schedule, and ticket prices, call 501-321-4747 or check out www.hsdfi.org.