All the Beauty and the Bloodshed has received an Oscar Nomination for best documentary at this year’s Academy Awards. The 2022 film explores Nan Goldin’s career and the Sackler pharmaceutical family’s fall from grace. Laura Poitras the director of the film she said, “Nan’s art and vision have inspired my work for years and have influenced generations of filmmakers.” The film premiered on September 3, 2022, at the 79th Venice International Film Festival, where it was awarded the Golden Lion, making it the second documentary (following Sacro G.R.A. in 2013) to win the top prize at Venice. It was also screened at the 2022 New York Film Festival, where it was the festival’s centrepiece film and for which Goldin designed two official posters. The film was released in theatres by Neon on November 23, 2022.
Nan’s art and vision have inspired my work for years – Director, Laura Poitras
Synopsis: The film examines the life and career of photographer and activist Nan Goldin and her efforts to hold Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family, accountable for the opioid epidemic. Goldin, a well-known photographer whose work often documented the L.G.B.T. subcultures and the HIV/AIDS crisis, founded the advocacy group P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) in 2017 after her addiction to Oxycontin, where she had a near-fatal overdose. P.A.I.N. specifically targets museums and other arts institutions to hold the art community accountable for its collaboration with the Sackler family and its well-publicized financial support of the arts. Since P.A.I.N.’s activities, most of the targeted museums have severed all ties with the Sackler family, and in 2021, Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy.
The film is structured in seven chapters, each beginning with a photographic sequence or archival footage of a period of Goldin’s life and then transitioning to footage of her recent protests with P.A.I.N. The slideshow of archival photographs is reminiscent of Goldin’s work creating slideshows or series of pictures, such as The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. Footage of P.A.I.N. demonstrations includes its first 2018 protest at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Temple of Dendur and similar demonstrations at the Louvre and the Guggenheim Museum. Goldin is the film’s primary narrator, with additional interviews from associates such as journalist Patrick Radden Keefe and P.A.I.N. member Megan Kapler.
• Nan Goldin
• Patrick Radden Keefe
• Megan Kapler
Production: Goldin and two other activists had been filming their activities with P.A.I.N. for two years, intending to make a documentary about the activist group. Goldin then approached the film’s production company about turning the footage into a movie. Laura Poitras suggested that Goldin direct the film based on Poitras’s work on Astro Noise for the Whitney Museum. However, Goldin was initially sceptical because of Poitras’ previous political films, saying, “I thought I was not going to be interesting to her because I don’t have any state secrets.”
Goldin has stated that most of the film’s footage and photographs come directly from her. However, Poitras expanded on Goldin’s vision for the project and chose to make a more well-rounded film about Goldin’s life and career. These biographical elements include the suicide of Goldin’s sister, Goldin’s drug use and her sex work activities, which she had never previously publicized, as well as her art career and achievements. Goldin initially felt uncomfortable with allowing Poitras to control the film and the depiction of her life but was happy with the finished film. Goldin said Poitras was “telling my story in my voice, but it’s not exactly my version as I would tell it. But she’s been amazing in letting me have a lot of input into what’s used and not used.”
Release: The film premiered on September 3, 2022, at the 79th Venice International Film Festival, where it was awarded the Golden Lion. It screened at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival on September 9. Shortly afterwards, Poitras criticized both the Venice and Toronto festivals for screening a film produced by Hillary Clinton, In Her Hands. Poitras stated that she was “alarmed” by Clinton’s presence at the festivals, adding, “Hillary Clinton was actively involved in the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. She supported the escalation of troops.” It was also screened at the 2022 New York Film Festival, the festival’s centrepiece film.
In August 2022, before its Venice premiere, Neon acquired the U.S. distribution rights for the movie, while Altitude Film Distribution took the U.K. and Ireland rights. In September 2022, HBO Documentary Films acquired television and streaming rights to the film. The film was released in theatres by Neon on November 23, 2022. The film coincides with This Will Not End Well, a retrospective of Goldin’s work at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet, which opened on October 29, 2022.