Plastic Man: The Artful Life of Jerry Ross Barrish
presented in association with the 35th San Francisco Jewish Film Festival
Producer Janis Plotkin, Director William Farley and subject Jerry Ross Barrish in person
San Francisco Premiere
Admission $14 general/$13 students and seniors
Additional screening dates, times, locations and tickets available here.
“Michelangelo said the rocks speak to him. Well, this plastic stuff speaks to me,” says Jerry Ross Barrish in this inspiring documentary by William Farley about the unorthodox San Francisco–based artist and former pioneering independent filmmaker. Working with found plastic—trash, essentially—since 1989, Barrish has created sculptures with the empathic whimsy of Alexander Calder or Pablo Picasso. Now in his 70s, he enjoys powerful friends in the art world, from curators to critics, many featured in the film. Yet he struggles for success. Evidently plastic is too cheap for the best galleries. Friends urge him to cast his work in bronze. But can Barrish make concessions for commercial success? As the movie reveals, sculpting is just one facet of his free-spirited life. Barrish grew up the dyslexic son of a mob-connected Chicago boxer and worked for 40 years as a bail bondsman, becoming the bailout guy for many radical ’60s protestors. He jokes that his Jewish faith has made him a pessimist. But he’s enjoyed a successful run doing what felt right, and now he weighs whether to tackle his first bronze commission. Too often art documentaries treat their subjects with reverent distance, but Barrish’s infectious charm will make you want to pick up a pencil and start drawing.—Emily Kaiser Thelin
William Farley’s features, documentaries and short films have won countless awards and have been broadcast and screened in hundreds of film festivals around the world, including Sundance, New York, Mannheim, Chicago, and Sydney Film Festivals. Farley’s two dramatic feature films: Of Men and Angels and Citizen, opened at the Sundance Film Festival. Included among Farley’s 20 films are the artist biographies: Shadow & Light: The Life and Art of Elaine Badgley Arnoux, 2007; Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, 2007 and Darryl Henriques Is In Show Business, 2006. Other notable productions include Broke (1994 & 2004) and The Old Spaghetti Factory (2000).