If you're not familiar with the work of Academy Award-winning Actress/Director/Producer Lee Grant, you can now get familiar with her work in the comfort of your own home (while still supporting local theater) by viewing the Virtual Cinema series 20th Century Woman:The Documentary Films of Lee Grant . This retrospective was curated by Actor/Director Taylor A. Purdee out of New York City. Though curation is not a novel concept, new times call for new processes and this series, which started as a series of screenings at New York City's Film Forum before Covid, has now become a series of films and clips available to view anywhere through the websites of local theaters. Virtual cinema is a relatively new concept that gaining a lot of traction since the pandemic. Independent theaters can still make money without bodies in their seats. And, in the case of 20th Century Women: The Documentary Films of Lee Grant, the viewers get to view a package not seen elsewhere.
We talk with Taylor A. Purdee who put this retrospective together, Taylor is filmmaker with, as they say, folks in showbiz. His dad is popular daytime star Nathan Purdee (known for One Life to Live and Y&R), and his mother Roberta is a producer who has worked for years with Lee. In this interview we talk about how he found himself putting this series together, how he's introducing them to a new generation, and how something like this might just be around for quite some time.
Taylor, I asked Lee if she every thought she would be the subject of virtual cinema. Her answer was "never". Tell me how this started.
Taylor A. Purdee: One day I just kind of found a few old prints of the films in Lee’s closet. I think it was What Sex am I? and Battered. And it was right around the time that Kaitlyn Jenner was having a very public transition. And Lee sort of said “I think we made a film about that.” Which of course she had, and we found that a clip of it was on YouTube and had tens of thousands of hits so I thought people might be interested in the rest of it. And it just kind of spiraled from there.
Taylor A. Purdee: That was a series on Lee as both actor and director, with the director part being made up of this documentary collection. And we’d been hoping to take those films to a few other art houses before they became available for streaming. But when the shutdown hit obviously that changed. And honestly that’s kind of where the “curated” part came in. Because it seemed like if this was supposed to be a “virtual” “theatrical” experience we should do our best to handle it the way the art houses would have.
This is an exciting concept, which can help theaters.
TO VIEW THE FILMS:
TO CONNECT WITH TAYLOR A. PURDEE