New Susan Sontag Documentary Sheds Light on Her Love Affair with Images

“She was obsessed with beauty,” notes director Nancy Kates of her recent subject, prolific writer and activist Susan Sontag, who penned the 1977 opus On Photography, a collection of essays that has since shaped and colored our relationship the medium.

Sontag’s words entered Kates’s life while the latter was at university in the 1980s, and the filmmaker has remained fascinated with the intellectual icon ever since. The concept of a film came to her in her office, she admits, at a time when her home bookshelf was lined with seven books by Sontag.

Regarding Susan Sontag, now completed, aims to paint a portrait of the revered woman in a way that is both empathetic and honest, that reveals the living, breathing woman behind those courageous and incisive words. While Sontag’s legacy lies in words, it was the images that so captivated her and drew from her such fertile ideas.

In quite literally showing Sontag through archival photographs and film footage, Regarding Susan Sontag pays tribute to her powerful—if conflicted—love affair with images. Writes Kates in conversation with Feature Shoot, “We tried to make it visually compelling, both to underscore her ideas and the process of thinking and writing, and because she deserved it in some way.”

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