Francesca Woodman was prodigiously talented, with her nude photographic self-portraits astonishing in their autobiographical candor. Tragically, she killed herself in 1981 at the age of 22. Her parents and brother, themselves all artists, discuss her childhood and ruminate on her extraordinary talent. Through readings from her journal and testimony from family and friends, a picture of a troubled but brilliant young woman emerges.
This complex work investigates the nexus of genius and genetics, raising questions about creativity and the influence of family on an artist’s essence. George, a painter, is in thrall to his daughter, but also admits to some resentment; her death affects him and his art in strange ways. Meanwhile, wife Betty, a ceramicist, is unapologetic in her devotion to her craft. Today, Francesca’s haunting work is highly valued, but she never lived to see or enjoy her success. Willis’s documentary is a penetrating look into one tortured soul, and the emotions of those left behind.