by the Forward

A Love Letter to Bill Cunningham and New York

The most memorable film screening I attended this year was a memorial screening of “Bill Cunningham: New York” back on July 21. The eponymous star of the film, a shy New York Times photographer who documented New York’s and Paris’s fashion scenes on a bike, died at 87 on June 25 of this year, after being hospitalized for a stroke. Cunningham never married and was childless. Nevertheless, the one screening, which was open to the public was packed with friends, and fans. Also in attendance was director/cinematographer Richard Press and producer Philip Gefter. It was in every way a therapeutic wake, and I could hear people sobbing in their seats even as they laughed at Cunningham’s delicious wit.

The 7 pm screening was held at the IFC Center; it was the longest running film ever screened at the IFC Center. I had seen the film there in 2011 after it premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010, and I did a double take to see “Bill Cunningham New York” again on the IFC marquee.

“Bill Cunningham New York” is the perfect character documentary because it celebrates a mostly unknown yet true hero, and is a love letter to New York as well.

- Laurie Gwen Shapiro
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Bill Cunningham: New York

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