By David J. Kent
Friday, December 3, 2021
Daniel Chester French, the world-renowned sculptor who created the grand seated Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial, is finally getting a documentary made about him. Apparently, no one has ever made a documentary of French before, which surprised even Donna Hassler, the executive director of Chesterwood, the western Massachusetts house that was French's long-time studio.
And what great timing! The film, which is being produced, written, and directed by Argentinian-American filmmaker Eduardo Montes-Bradley, is scheduled to be completed in time for the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Memorial occurring in May 2022. The world premiere is expected to be at a southern Berkshire venue (not far from Chesterwood, no doubt) on Memorial Day weekend. Collaborating with Montes-Bradley is scholar Daniel Preston, the two of whom immersed themselves in both Chesterwood (French's summer home for nearly 35 years) and Meadowlark (French's second studio). Preston had edited French's letters, papers, and notes while collaborating with biographer Michael Richman. Montes-Bradley also discussed the project with more recent French biographer and Lincoln Group of DC member, Harold Holzer.
The Lincoln Group is deeply interested in the film as we are actively planning for the Lincoln Memorial Centennial event ourselves. We'll have more information on these pages shortly, but have lined up some stellar speakers, a celebrity or two, and even a singer. [Check back soon for details, but here's our earlier post with the basics.]
According to reporting in The Berkshire Eagle:
The film will be distributed by Kanopy, an on-demand streaming service aimed at public and academic libraries, but also available to the general public with a library card or university ID. A 10-minute version is being produced for the Chesterwood website, likely by the end of the year, and the completed film will be entered into film festivals and then surface on YouTube later in 2022.
Now would be a good time to pencil in May 22nd for the Lincoln Group event on the Lincoln Memorial steps, and the following weekend to look for the release of Daniel Chester French, the documentary movie. Look for the preview here.