Beginnings was initially a series of very short (2-3 minutes) profiles of artists and creative types on Sundance Channel. I believe they may have originally been broadcast separately, but the form I saw them in was seven of them back-to-back forming one film.

The figures profiled are dancer and choreographer Carmen De Lavallade, fashion designer Carolina Herrera, chef Dan Barber, photographer Mario Sorrenti, artist Mickalene Thomas, Yoko One (ugh), and designer Massimo Vignelli.

Each speaks into the camera about their careers and how they got started. Interspersed are various relevant visuals.

I believe all of these folks are located in New York. (A later set of profiles was of people in Paris.)

They generally fit the stereotypes of big city artists: Minorities, gay acting, foreign accent, or some combination, often with a kind of effete, arrogant style to them, like people who are used to being fawned over at cocktail parties. Other than Yoko I had never heard of any of them.

They make a few interesting remarks here and there, so I wouldn’t say I got nothing out of the film. But my main problem with Beginnings is the brevity. What it put me in mind of is seven trailers for biographical documentaries. It feels like previews, with little meat.

Then again, my interest in arts and artists like these is fairly low, so chances are I would have been bored by full length documentaries on any of them, as has happened when I have occasionally watched a documentary of an hour or so about, say, a painter. But quite aside from how I would react, I just think there would be a lot more value to a film or films with considerably more substance where you get to know these people a great deal better.


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