The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman's Portrait Photography (2016)

Film details

  • Director

    Errol Morris

  • Year


  • Type


  • Category

    Non Fiction


Both an engaging look at the life of photographer Elsa Dorfman and a paean to the magic of Polaroid Instamatic technology this film will surprise viewers more familiar with Morris films interrogating politicians and authority figures. Ensconced in her studio Dorfman shows us a treasure trove of work spanning 40 years. Her early subjects were her social circle, leaders of 70s American counterculture including Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, a lifelong friend captured in some wonderfully intimate portraits. Later her subjects were ordinary people; as she opens each cabinet, Morris captures her delight and surprise at rediscovering the "discards" of her customers ("the B-sides"), these large-scale instant Polaroid portraits "influenced by Ginsberg's poetry in the acceptance of detail, everydayness”. Looking at pictures of Ginsberg she reflects that portrait photography only becomes truly relevant when the subjects pass on, a poignant reminder of time, memory, love and friendship accumulated over a lifetime.

Cast & Credits

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