Don’t Blink: Robert Frank

Poster for Don’t Blink: Robert Frank

Even Robert Frank’s friends will tell you that he is difficult.

One of the most influential figures in the worlds of photography and independent filmmaking, Frank has never been easily approachable. For over six decades he has held steadfast to a singular vision and earned widespread acclaim without forsaking his outsider status. At age 91, he continues producing photography books, making intimate videos and enjoying the company of his tight circle of friends.

A Swiss expatriate who moves between NYC and Nova Scotia, Frank’s photos, films and texts are imbued with a profoundly poetic, deeply introspective sensibility. He is a cult figure whose ties to the Beat Generation and Rolling Stones earned him both respect and a certain infamy.

Most celebrated for his seminal photo book The Americans and the landmark independent film Pull My Daisy, Frank has spent his career ignoring aesthetic and cultural boundaries. Frank’s multi-layered life and work are largely inseparable, and he has never been ready to let someone tell his story until Don’t Blink directed by Laura Israel, his longtime film and video editor.

Their years of collaboration have resulted in a rare working relationship built on intuition and mutual trust. Don’t Blink follows Frank from his early family life in Switzerland to his reluctance to embrace celebrity status in New York to his eventual quest for solitude in a remote corner of Nova Scotia.

A series of personal tragedies pushed Frank to painfully explore complex feelings about family and friends, memory and loss, acceptance of change and loneliness. Don’t Blink offers audiences revelatory insight into the intricacies of his photos, films and personal history while artfully revealing Robert Frank’s complex life story.

Don’t Blink is the rare documentary both vague enough to whet your appetite and specific enough to imbue a sense of kinship with its subject, like an old friend from camp you haven’t seen in decades. Like Frank himself, the film chugs ever forward as an elaborate, chaotic, grumpy, optimistic mess.” (Jacob Oller, The Film Stage)

“Rather than being a film about an artist, it’s an attempt to show us what it’s like to actually be an artist.” (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times)

“You leave with a vivid sense of the man’s living presence and a reasonably thorough account of his life, work and associations. Given the sheer volume and variety of the work in question, this is an impressive achievement.” (A.O. Scott, The New York Times)