By the Ways, A Journey with William Eggleston

Institute History

  • 2006 Sundance Film Festival


A noteworthy addition to the canon of art about artists, this documentary by Cédric Laty and Vincent Gérard creates a unique and fitting portrait of William Eggleston, the pioneering American photographer often acknowledged as the father of modern color photography. On its surface an appreciation of his work and methods, the film is also experimental in form, exploring its subject by unconventional, but rewarding, means.

The filmmakers approach Eggleston with due respect, but without assuming that mere filming will reveal him. As with his most iconic photographs, which reconstruct America's southland in idiosyncratic, cryptic terms, Laty and Gérard face an oblique subject in the poker-faced Eggleston and confront him (it may be said) on his own terms. Nonparallel chapters, scraps of biography, oblique visual compositions in which Eggleston prowls for suitable camera angles in cities around the world, and intriguing, contrapuntal music combine to produce an almost cubist picture of the man.

Whether that picture is accurate or complete is beside the point. It's right-on in spirit and coheres as portraiture sculpted from the association of ideas. A rewarding profile of Eggleston and his work, By the Ways is also a stimulating documentary exercise about the mysteries that produce great art.

— Shannon Kelley

Screening Details

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