Bob McPhail 6:31 a.m., May 19
Director Jill Godmilow Reads The Big Screen!
Despite the fact that I originally goofed and referred to her as "Joan," Jill Godmilow, film professor at Notre Dame and director of Antonia: A Portrait of the Woman, was kind enough to drop a line to The Big Screen.
Jill Godmilow speaks at the Indiana University Cinema in 2011.
I had very fond memories of a screening of her Antonia in Wilmette, Illinois. (The Wilmette Theatre is the only one I can recall having walls that were whiter than the screen.) While curating the film program at MoPA, I found a faded 16mm print in the museum library. It remains a charming, beautifully made look at the life of then 71-year-old Antonia Brico, pianist and conductor (the first woman to lead the New York Philharmonic), and Judy Collins's piano teacher.
Ms. Godmilow's name came up in a recent column concerning popular musicians who tried their hand at filmmaking. Judy Collins, who received a codirecting credit on Antonia, was one of two musicians cited, "whose contributions to cinema complement their musical talents." (The other was Rob Zombie.) I went on to speculate, "Collins's contributions to Antonia undoubtedly had more to do with her name recognition helping to get the documentary financed than any directorial involvement."
The DVD is no longer in print and, as you will soon found out, a bit pricey. Call Guy over at Kensington Video. They have everything! The following exchange is reprinted with Ms. Godmilow's permission.
"Message: for Scott Marks, San Diego Reader
"As per your blog on 6/13/11 called Madonna as Auteur:
"Just for the record re: Antonia: A Portrait of the Woman. I was the filmmaker, essentially, although Judy was on all the shoots and was in the editing room a lot and had her input. I was the filmmaker Judy asked to make the film with her. She put up all the money. Antonia Brico had been her piano teacher back in Denver Colorado where Judy grew up. Apparently Judy was quite talented and Antonia's heart was a bit broken when Judy took up folksinging and became a superstar. Still, Judy paid her back with this film, which was nominated for an Academy Award, broadcast nationally on PBS and in many other countries."
I wrote back, if for no other reason than to apologize for bungling her name. I expressed admiration and took delight in the fact that she responded to my mention of her film. I also noted that the DVD is out-of-print and selling for big bucks on Amazon.
"Don't worry about trampling my name — not angry, no trouble.
"Yeah — it's out of print except on eBay where you can buy a DVD for $70 or so... I wouldn't. Some company talked silly Judy into a limited edition because they wanted to put out some of her concerts. Too bad. And she owns the rights — not me."