Dirty Pictures

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Reality meets genre in a pacy exploration of events surrounding the Robert Mapplethorpe's posthumous 1990 exhibition. Notorious for his frank depiction of children and gay SM practices, the American photographer was admired and reviled. When Dennis Barrie (Woods), director of the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, goes ahead with the show, despite pressure from his Board and right-wing campaigners, obscenity charges are brought. The trial tests Barrie's family ties, while shaping as a key battle in the struggle for freedom of expression. So far, so worthy (and worthwhile), but the film lifts off from its factual origins to deliver a major plea for tolerance and minority understanding, and against political censorship in culture generally. Coming over at times like a radical left-field essay film, it weaves talking heads (Salman Rushdie, William Buckley Jr, politicos and creatives) with archive and news footage to build a profound argument about the ramifications for the entire community of such 'slippery slope' behaviour.

Release details

Duration: 104 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Frank Pierson
Screenwriter: Ilene Chaiken
Cast: Ann Marin
James Woods
Craig T Nelson
Diana Scarwid
Leon Pownall
David Huband
Judah Katz
RD Reid
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