Films document skeletons in the closet

‘Family Secrets’ Aired In Amagansett




Amagansett Library will be screening “Family Secrets,” a documentary series starting Thursday, July 11, and continuing on Thursdays on July 18, 25, and August 1. Each documentary will approach different stories about the director’s personal family secret.

HBO award-winning director and producer Patti Kaplan will facilitate the event and conduct a Q & A after the viewing of each documentary.

“I have always been most interested in the personal documentary — where the filmmaker is a member of the family whose story he is exploring,” stated Kaplan.

In order for Kaplan to get these documentaries out to the public, she contacted the librarian director, Lauren Nichols, who was very “enthusiastic” about the idea, Kaplan said.

Nichols said, “Patti reached out and we said ‘yes.’ We just had to pick a time that worked for her and for the patrons of our area.”

Each week will focus on one film. Week one, “Little White Lie,” directed by Lacey Schwartz will be viewed. Week two, “The Flat,” directed by Arnon Goldfinger; week three, “The Kids Grown Up,” by Doug Block; and week four, the famous “Grey Gardens,” by Albert and David Maysles.

Several of the filmmakers are the member of their family that exposed the secret, like Lacey Schwartz, where she discovered her dual identity, which is presented in the film.

Kaplan stated, “Most families have some secrets buried, so I believe people can easily relate, perhaps not to the level of deceit and denial revealed in the first two films,” as was the case in Schwartz’s film.

According to the Amagansett website: “Filmmaker Schwartz grew up in a middle-class Jewish household with loving parents but she realized from childhood that something was amiss. Not until she entered Georgetown University did Lacey come to understand her dual identity. She made this film to ‘come out of the racial closet.’ She wanted to understand and unravel the ‘power of denial’ that had enveloped her childhood and caused her so much personal suffering.”

In “The Flat,” the second film in the series: “Israeli filmmaker Goldfinger begins to clean out the Tel Aviv apartment of his recently deceased German-born Jewish grandmother, when he discovers evidence of his grandparents’ close friendship with a leading official in the Nazi propaganda ministry. Most shocking is the discovery that they remained friends after the war. Thus begins a grandson’s journey into buried family history and the human capacity for self-delusion. He recognizes that the past often returns to haunt the present.”

In the “The Kids Grow Up,” on July 25, “Filmmaker Block offers an intimate, sometimes uncomfortable, look into his relationship with his only child, Lucy, as he documents her final year at home before leaving for college. Alternating between past and present and between emotionally fraught and humorous moments, the film explores complex issues of parenthood and what it means to let go.”

And finally, on August 1, comes the documentary about East Hampton’s own Bouvier family, which has since been a successful Broadway musical, “Grey Gardens.”

“The Maysles’ style of making films changed the landscape of documentary filmmaking by using very unobtrusive methods to tell their stories,” reads the website.

“By allowing action to occur without ‘direction,’ they manage to create a mesmerizing and candid portrait of two highly eccentric women living hidden from the world. The reclusive Beales, big and little Edie, who come from a largely unknown branch of Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s family, are living in total squalor amid multiple cats and raccoons in a once-beautiful home located on prime land in the posh village of East Hampton. Once the film was released, little Edie said: ‘To my mother and me, ‘Grey Gardens’ is a breakthrough to something beautiful and precious called life.’”

In 2014, “Grey Gardens” was voted the ninth best documentary of all time by a film critics association.

But, Kaplan said, the filmmaker is sometimes surprised by the secrets that come out in the making of the documentary. “Often he or she does not know the dimension of the deceit and lies that will be exposed. It’s a delicate matter and I find it very compelling.”

These compelling films will be viewed from 6 to 8 PM at the Amagansett Free Library. For further information, visit www.amaglibrary.org.