New Movie Portraying Legendary Painter Marsden Hartley: “Cleophas and His Own” on National Tour

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"Cleophas and His Own" is a new movie portraying legendary American painter and poet Marsden Hartley. This movie is on national tour and will be released on DVD this summer. Twenty-four of Hartley's paintings and drawings are shown in the film.

In September 1943, in the remote fishing village of Corea, Maine, the manuscript of a secret, unpublished narrative written by American modernist painter and poet Marsden Hartley, was discovered among Hartley’s personal belongings just a few days after his death. “Cleophas and His Own,” is Hartley’s deeply personal and private story, written to ease his grief over the death of the young man who had been the great love of his life. This story of love and loss by one of America’s finest painters is a powerful elegy unique in the annals of American art.

73 years later, first-time, independent filmmaker Michael Maglaras has used Hartley’s poignant narrative as the screenplay for a feature-length film. “Cleophas and His Own” is on a national tour which began in June 2005 in Hartley’s hometown of Lewiston, Maine. Screenings are scheduled in select cities through November, 2006. Maglaras will appear at each showing to discuss the film and take questions from the audience. The movie is scheduled for release on DVD in July.

“Cleophas and His Own” will be shown in New York City at Sunshine Cinema, Thursday, June 29th at 7:00 PM.

“Cleophas and His Own” presents Hartley (played by Maglaras) very near the end of his life. As the film opens, Hartley makes his way painfully to his makeshift studio in the remote coastal village of Corea, Maine, where, tired, alone, and gravely ill, he recounts to an unseen visitor a sad story of the fate that befell the Francis Mason family, with whom he spent two idyllic summers on a remote Nova Scotia island in 1935 and 1936. Those two summers forever transformed Hartley’s work as an artist, and so transformed the history of American art.

Employing Hartley's narrative in its entirety, the film uses flashbacks and twenty-four of Hartley's paintings and drawings to illuminate the joy and acceptance Hartley felt living with this simple family, as well as the pain he endured when the Masons suddenly lost three family members in a hurricane – and Hartley lost the man he loved: their son Alton (whom he called “Adelard” in his story).

Devastated by these events, Hartley wrote “Cleophas and His Own” as a private testament, and then spent the last seven years of his life painting and repainting the Mason family and depicting the stark reality of the cruelness of the sea – leaving behind an unparalleled body of work.

On the net:

Thursday, June 29 – 7:00 PM

Sunshine Cinema

143 East Houston Street (between 1st and 2nd)

Take the F or V Train to 2nd Avenue

Admission: $10.75

Not rated / 147 Minutes

Discussion with the director will follow.

Media Quotes:

"...holds the viewer spellbound from start to finish..." (Peggy Parsons, National Gallery of Art)

“Moving…very moving.” (Bob Madigan, WGMS Radio, Washington, DC)

“A superb piece of devotional prepared to savor the experience...” (Edgar Allen Beem, Art Critic, Portland Forecaster)

“Hypnotic in its effect, the haunting film illuminates Hartley's life and work with a nearly Bergman-like gravitas….I recommend it highly.” (Victoria Dalkey, Art Correspondent, Sacramento Bee)

"A penetrating performance of understated intensity...a passionately rendered ode..." (Jason Gargano, Film Critic, Cincinnati CityBeat)


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Tami Kennedy