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STARS BY HELMUT NEWTON

Germany, 2000 (MIFF 2001, Documentaries)

Director: Julian Benedikt

Notorious for his stark, black and white photography capturing ice-cool Teutonic giantesses in fetish wardrobes, Helmut Newton is one of modern photography's most enduring figures. This alluring documentary incorporates three distinct strands: an illuminating biography of Newton, interviews with his more famous subjects relating anecdotes about the way in which he works and the story of the production of the most expensive book of the 20th century.

Married for decades to Australian wife June, Newton enjoyed a rapid rise to celebrity with his unique style. He moved in exalted social circles, mixing with royalty and cavorting with playboy millionaires. Contrary to this outward appearance, Newton is a down to earth character, unimpressed with the trappings of luxury. As related by the likes of Sigourney Weaver and a bevy of supermodels, Newton is far from the libidinous Eurotrash lounge lizard many imagine him to be. He frequently wastes less than half an hour on a shoot, spending most of the time chatting amiably to his subjects before take a few quick snaps and disappearing. His portraiture work was collated for an outrageously packaged book by long-term fan and art patron Benedikt Taschen. The book came with its own made to order coffee table designed by Phillippe Starck. A marvellous account of an exceptional life.

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