Published on March 4th, 2023 | by TLV News1
Local Documentary “Two Lives in Photography” Screens at The Oxford Film Festival Saturday March 4
Two Lives in Photography, directed by Thad Lee, will be preceded by short Mississippi film Peggy Blue-Eyes, starring Susan McPhail at 3 pm in the Malco Commons Screen 3 (Kristina Carlson Auditorium)
Two Lives in Photography is a film about married photographers Maude Schuyler Clay and Langdon Clay. It It is based on their joint exhibition at the University Museum in Oxford, Mississippi, and is structured by the Clays walking to key works hanging on the walls in a dance of sorts. During the course of the 90-minute walk through the galleries and both of their careers, we learn about as much about the Clays and their marriage as we do about their rich subjects.
Director Thad Lee wrote about the film:
“On February 10, 2020 at the University Museum in Oxford, I produced and directed what would become the skeleton of a film called Two Lives in Photography, which was the name of the joint exhibition on display by married artists Maude Schuyler Clay and Langdon Clay. The work on the walls reached from 1973 to 2017 and was beautifully curated by Melanie Munns Antonelli. The subjects range from the Mississippi Delta landscape to portraits of Eudora Welty and William Eggleston to Times Square in the late 1970s to Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris.
The project came to me through a phone call a few weeks earlier that Langdon made to my wife, Carlyle Wolfe Lee. The Clays had seen my films about her art studio and exhibitions and were interested in having a video about Two Lives in Photography that could show other museums what the exhibit had to offer, for the Clays and the Museum have hopes that Two Lives in Photography will travel.
My wife’s videos were silent and set to music but felt organic because they were about the creation of the work. When considering the Clay’s project, I wondered if I could make a film that felt intimate and alive given that the exhibition had already been completed. I was blessed with an opportunity on January 30 to hear Maude and Langdon tell the stories about the images on the walls during their Gallery Walk-though. Around thirty people attended the event, so museum director Robert Saarnio asked the Clays to each lead a group around the exhibit. I went back and forth between them with my camera, hearing amazingly rich recollections about what was happening at the time which caused Maude and Langdon to stop and take the photographs.
I knew we could make a special film if the spirit of the back and forth between the Clays in a dance of sorts could be captured. I hired Greg Grey to help me shoot it, Fish Michie to score it, Jeffrey Reed and Matthew Graves to master it, and three years and three weeks later, I am pleased to say that the film is complete and will have its first screening on Saturday March 4 at 3 pm at the Malco Commons for the Oxford Film Festival.
I am grateful to the Clays for trusting me with their work, the Museum for allowing me into their space, Ann Abadie and Dorothy Howorth for helping make the exhibit and film possible, and my wife for helping me navigate all the routes we had to travel in order to get it to the screen. I am also grateful to Matt Wymer and the Oxford Film Festival for giving me the opportunity to debut Two Lives in Photography during the twenty-year anniversary of the film’s birth, which I remember well.”
The short film Peggy Blue-Eyes, starring Susan McPhail, will precede Two Lives in Photography.