A Good Man

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“A remarkable testament to the creative process, which, like much of Jones’s best work, is centered around themes of history, identity, and love.” — Jesse Paddock, Slant

Country: USA
Running time: 86 mins

Producer: Joanna Rudnick
Photography: Keith Walker
Editor: David E. Simpson

With: Bill T. Jones

Festivals: Amsterdam Documentary 2011

An intensely stirring depiction of creative ambition and struggle, this portrait of African American choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones observes the artist as he forges a massive, contentious dance-theatre work commissioned for the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. Jones, a fiercely articulate, intelligent artist, begins with a question that hovers over the film and throughout the two-year evolution of his show: was Lincoln a good man? Jones’ relationship to his subject – the only white man he was allowed to ‘love unconditionally’ – undergoes many changes. Jones is as demanding of his dancers, whose bodies are his ‘sublime materials’, and other close collaborators with whom he has been working for many years, as he is of himself. Inspired and inspiring, but also capable of violent outbursts when frustrated, Jones is a commanding, volatile presence. Archival footage from earlier phases of his illustrious career weave through the film, but it’s the way that Jones harnesses dynamic creative relationships into a common desire for exploration that make this film so fascinating. — SR

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