The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography


This event will take place at the Tucson Jewish Community Center, 3800 E. River Road

This film will be preceded by the seven minute short, The Umbrella Man.

Portrait photographer Elsa Dorfman found her medium in 1980: the larger-than-life Polaroid Land 20”x24” camera, one of only a handful in the world. In the ensuing 35 years she’s taken approximately 4,000 photos, masterfully capturing the “surfaces” of those who visited her Cambridge, Massachusetts studio: Beat poets, rock stars, Harvard notables and families large and small — from complete unknowns to legends like Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jorge Luis Borges, Jonathan Richman, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan.

“Errol Morris’ The B-Side is as warmly affectionate as its subject.”- Ella Taylor, NPR

Her generosity of spirit and love of her fellow humans make her a great portraitist, and her photographs reflect her joyful spirit. But the film stock she uses is no longer made by Polaroid, who declared bankruptcy, hastening her looming retirement. Looking back on her rich career, Dorfman, with whimsical wit and charm, gives longtime friend and Academy Award-winning filmmaker Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War) an inside tour of her backyard archive, including the beloved photos she calls the rejected “B-sides” — images turned down by her subjects but often better than the ones they’ve chosen to keep. Morris’ warm-hearted film reminds us of a bygone era of analog photography and the extraordinary life of one of its relatively-unheralded champions. (Dir. by Errol Morris, 2017, USA, 76 mins., Not Rated)