Review: ‘Walter Rosenblum: In Search of Pitt Street’

Veteran nonfiction helmer Nina Rosenblum ("Through the Wire," "Liberators") crafts an affectionate tribute to her father, the celebrated American photographer, in "Walter Rosenblum: In Search of Pitt Street." Broadcast-ready running time and specialized subject signal this as primarily a tube item, though it launched an Academy-qualifying theatrical run in L.A. on Oct. 15.

Veteran nonfiction helmer Nina Rosenblum (“Through the Wire,” “Liberators”) crafts an affectionate tribute to her father, the celebrated American photographer, in “Walter Rosenblum: In Search of Pitt Street.” Broadcast-ready running time and specialized subject signal this as primarily a tube item, though it launched an Academy-qualifying theatrical run in L.A. on Oct. 15.

Born to working-class Jewish parents on the Lower East Side in 1919, Rosenblum grew up submerged in Gotham’s melting pot, and a fascination with immigrant populations informed much of his later work — photographing his childhood neighborhood, post-WWII Spanish refugees, Mexican migrant workers. Early alliance with the city’s influential Photo League in the ’30s solidified his interest in “social photography,” though his studies of the poor and oppressed were seldom depressing. As a still and motion picture photographer during WWII, he earned a Purple Heart and recorded the liberation of Dachau. A onetime student of his, Naomi, became his wife and a leading expert on the history of photography. Still active, Rosenblum is a genial interview subject. Abetted by plenty of archival footage and images, cleanly handled docu provides an inspiring, if not particularly exciting, portrait.

Walter Rosenblum: In Search of Pitt Street

Production

A Daedalus Prods. presentation. Produced by Nina Rosenblum, Sonya Starr. Co-producer, Daniel V. Allentuck. Directed by Nina Rosenblum.

With

Camera (color/B&W, 16mm), Dejan Georgevich; additional camera, Nancy Schreiber, Nina Rosenblum; editors, Steven Olswang, Satoko Sugiyama; sound recordists, Gautaum Choudhury, Brenda Ray; sound editors, Maurice Schell, Laura Civiello. Reviewed at Mill Valley Film Festival, Oct. 11, 1999. Running time: 60 MIN.
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