Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Hope Davis

Hope Davis, Toronto, Sept. 12, 2005

WHEN I GO THROUGH THESE OLD PHOTOS FROM THE FILM FESTIVAL I can't help but wonder how much longer such an event will even exist. I began shooting the film festival in Toronto back when it was still called the Festival of Festivals, back in the mid-'80s, when a big city couldn't call itself metropolitan if it didn't have a network of repertory cinemas and art houses that played foreign films, which were fed for most of the year by the sorts of films that played at film festivals.

An actor like Hope Davis would start their career in a string of small films made to play at festivals before a few weeks' run at an art house cinema or the small screens at a multiplex. By the time I photographed Davis she was co-starring with Anthony Hopkins and Gwyneth Paltrow in Proof - one of those prestige projects that got made for adult audiences who still considered a well-reviewed, intelligent film something worth a dinner and a night out. It's barely a decade ago, but it seems to me that the work I did then is a record of something that's more than halfway gone.

Hope Davis, Toronto, Sept. 12, 2005

I knew Davis from films like Next Stop Wonderland and Mumford rather than her bit parts in bigger movies like Home Alone and Mr. Right - festival films, in other words. I had a picture of her in my head - a wary, pretty blonde whose face, should you choose to draw it, would have to start with the eyes. She was very much what I expected when she walked into the suite at the Intercontinental, and luckily I was able to find a sliver of the sort of soft light that I knew would flatter her features; something warm and a bit painterly.

I don't know how I presented these shots to the free daily at the time, but I've put some work into accentuating that painterly aspect today. It's doubtful that I would have been able to produce a photo that looked like this in the days of film photography without an arsenal of lights and a makeup person; portrait photography in the digital age is done mostly after the shutter has been clicked, a more solitary kind of work that's made the decisions you make after the shoot as important as the ones you make before and during.

Davis is still very busy, but like many of the actors who used to make festival films, she's as likely to be seen on television these days. Having passed from ingenue to wife and mother roles, she's played Hillary Clinton and, I was shocked to discover, had a role as Tony Stark's mother in Captain America: Civil War, making this the fourth post in a row featuring an actor with a part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which not coincidentally grew to looming proportions roughly about the time that the festival film started to disappear.

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