×

Robert De Niro Pays Tribute to His Father at Bentonville Festival

It was standing room only at the Thursday afternoon Bentonville Film Festival screening of HBO’s “Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr.,” Robert De Niro’s documentary homage to his late father, a gifted painter whose abstract expressionist style was marginalized by the rise of American pop art in the 1960’s.

Perri Peltz, journalist and co-director of the film (along with Geeta Gandbhir), moderated the post-screening Q & A with De Niro, which was held at Bentonville’s Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, one of the inaugural Arkansas fest’s most popular event venues. Also on the panel was art advisor Megan Fox Kelly, who, for the past seven years, has been a fiery champion of De Niro, Sr.’s work.

“It’s kind of something I owed him,” said De Niro of the documentary, which functions as a cinematic love letter to his father, who died of prostate cancer on his 71st birthday without achieving the fame and fanfare for which he so desperately longed.

De Niro’s hope is that the film will introduce his father’s art to a brand new audience so that it finally receives the recognition it deserves.

“To me, the art is there, it’s like an archeological dig that you’ll find somewhere,” said De Niro. “It’s not going anywhere. It’s preserved—it’s the legacy. And whatever generation that will or could be, perhaps people will then rediscover (my father’s work) and who knows? That’s very, very likely. In 100 years it could be discovered. My whole thing is just very simply is that it finds a home, that the art finds a home and that it’s respected and kept, and revered. It’s good art, I’ll say great art, I know it’s my father but it’s great because of what he put into it—the time the effort, his heart and soul, that you can’t take away from him. It’s unique and special and it’s real and it’s there. Whether it becomes something like Van Gogh or artists who have gotten great fame, if you will, who knows? But it’s my job to keep it there, keep it safe, oversee it and it’s my kids’ job to do the same thing, to protect that legacy.”

The film, noted Peltz, was not originally intended for public consumption, but as a keepsake for De Niro’s family.

“What happened as we were working on it was that it became clear that this was Robert De Niro, Sr.’s story and that it’s really emblematic of a much larger group of artists and many artists, really, as a whole,” Peltz explained. “And we talked to Bob about the fact that maybe this was a much bigger story and something that really should be shared with people, not only as an opportunity to share beautiful art with the public, but (to share) this idea that fame an notoriety don’t necessarily come with great talent, and sometimes people work away and ever get the attention they might deserve. To tell this story posthumously and hopefully give Robert De Niro, Sr. the opportunity for people to see his work is a privilege.”

“Working on this film was, ultimately, a great way of communicating this story of the artist in a completely different way than we in the art world usually communicate,” added Kelly. “It was also an opportunity to put the work into a context and let the rest of the world make up their mind about the art. I think the legacy has yet to be determined and I think the art world is starting to come around to reevaluate, not just Robert De Niro Sr., but a lot of artists from his generation.”

While De Niro spoke openly of his affection for all of his late father’s work, his most recent acquisition was of a painting titled, “Lady in Red,” which hangs in his New York City apartment.

“It’s really great,” said the Oscar winning actor, who noted that if he could say one thing to father it would be this: “Dad, this is what I’m doing for you.”

More Film

  • 'Tomb Raider' Star Simon Yam in

    'Tomb Raider' Star Simon Yam in Hospital After Stabbing

    Hugely popular Hong Kong actor, Simon Yam was stabbed while on stage Saturday at a presentation in Zhongshan, Guangdong province in southern China. He is in hospital recovering. The incident happened at the opening of a branch of the Beijing Easyhome building materials company, where Yam was a guest. A man was seen rushing on [...]

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolosnaro attends the

    Bolsonaro Threatens Brazil’s Central Film Fund with Censorship or Closure

    In typical shoot-from-the-hip remarks, Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has declared that Ancine, Brazil’s powerful state-backed federal film agency, should accept “filters”or face closure. “If it can’t have a filter, we’ll close Ancine, or privatize it,” Bolsonaro added, attacking Ancine, which plows some $300 million a year into Brazil’s film and TV industries, for supporting [...]

  • TSOM-MASK

    Director Sara Gouveia on ‘Looking At Resilience Through Art’

    DURBAN–The Mapiko dance of Mozambique’s indigenous Makonde people was long used as a tool for social commentary. But during the colonial era it became an act of political resistance, prompting the Portuguese to stamp it out during Mozambique’s 10-year war for independence. Decades later, the art has been revived as a celebration of freedom. For [...]

  • Don Edkins

    Documentary Filmmaker Don Edkins on ‘Creating an African Voice’ 

    DURBAN–For the 10th Durban FilmMart (DFM), the industry program of the Durban Intl. Film Festival, a new strand was created to look at the unique challenges and opportunities facing documentary filmmakers in Africa. The two-day program, Durban Does Docs, offers a series of conversations, seminars and workshops with an intensive focus on the aesthetics, funding, distribution [...]

  • A Faithful Man

    Film Review: 'A Faithful Man'

    French actor Louis Garrel has been married twice, first to Iranian talent Golshifteh Farahani, and now to model-cum-actress Laetitia Casta. He has also directed two features, the first a free-wheeling love-triangle comedy called “Two Friends” in which Garrel plays the cad who comes between his best friend and the object of his obsession (played by [...]

  • LGBTQ Film Festival Outfest Opens With

    LGBTQ Film Festival Outfest Opens With Documentary About Gay Porn Shops Circus of Books

    Granted, the red carpet at the opening night of Outfest in DTLA may not have been the most star-studded but it was without a doubt the most diverse, inclusive and, yes, fabulous. “I’ve never been here before,” admitted “RuPaul’s Drag Race” vet Trixie Mattel, who stars in the documentary “Moving Parts.” “It’s supposed to be [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Russ Tamblyn's Career Had Legs After Childhood

    With an acting career that spans work for Cecil B. DeMille and Joseph Losey to Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch, Russ Tamblyn’s creativity and longevity is proof that there’s life after child stardom. In Tamblyn’s case, there’s also been a bounty of juicy film and TV roles long after his legendary legs no longer kicked [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content