The Disappearance of My Mother
Panorama | Focus on Italy
Perhaps best known for her collaborations with artists like Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí, and Richard Avedon, Benedetta Barzini has been photographed countless times, but with this frequently provocative, remarkably intimate documentary, she receives a close-up of another sort. Instead of being the passive subject of a photographer’s gaze, as she was in so many magazine spreads during the 1960s, Barzini here slings slurs at the camera, treating it as simply another instrument of exploitation. Never mind that, in this case, it’s her son (and the film’s director), Beniamino Barrese, who is the man behind the lens.
Now in her 70s and as active, sharp, and insolent as ever, Barzini maintains a highly demanding schedule, which includes appearing at London Fashion Week, teaching a seminar on feminist theory, and creating her own works of art. The Disappearance of My Mother chronicles these events and much, much more, demonstrating that this supermodel, actress, and political activist exceeds her image. To paraphrase Walt Whitman, Barzini is large. She contains multitudes.
"Watching the almost 75-year-old Barzini strut along a catwalk, her disdain indivisible from her deference, you admire her evident attempt to use an abusive system against itself. Beneath her flashy wardrobe and studied grin is a fierce, don’t-fuck-with-me intelligence that at the least manages to shake some oppressive foundations." - Keith Uhlich, The Hollywood Reporter