2016-02-01 / Spotlight News

Granddaughter of Depression-era photographer brings film to Bonita

By Glenn Miller


Filmmaker Dyanna Taylor will hold a Q & A at the film festival. 
Contributed Filmmaker Dyanna Taylor will hold a Q & A at the film festival. Contributed Dorothea Lange is best remembered for perhaps the most iconic image of the Great Depression, the photo of a mother who was a migrant farm worker.

It’s a black-and-white photo of a mother and two children. Lange captured the heartache, despair and desperation of the era in that composition of the mother holding a hand to her face as two young children, their faces turned away from the camera, cling to her.

That photo is well known to many. But not everybody knows Lange’s story.

Lange was more than one image. That will be clear to anybody attending the inaugural Bonita Springs International Film Festival and viewing “Dorothea Lange: Grab A Hunk of Lightning.”

The festival will be held at the Bonita Springs Centers for the Arts, Feb. 12-16. The Lange film is scheduled to be shown at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 16 in the Moe Auditorium & Film Center.


Film still of “Migrant Mother,” featured in “Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning.” 
Contributed Film still of “Migrant Mother,” featured in “Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning.” Contributed The film was directed by Lange’s granddaughter, Dyanna Taylor. She has won five Emmy Awards and a Peabody for work as a cinematographer and director. Taylor will hold a question-and-answer session that evening.

To Taylor, this was a personal project. The film includes clips of her as a child with her grandmother. After her grandmother’s death in 1965 at the age of 70, Dyanna Taylor lived for a while with her grandfather, economist Paul Taylor. He was Lange’s second husband.

Dyanna Taylor certainly knows how famous the photo is that her grandmother took 80 years ago.

“I hesitate to use the word iconic,” Taylor said. She added of the migrant mother, “There’s something about her gesture, her gaze. You’re looking into the future.”


Film still of Dorothea Lange in 1936 by Paul Taylor. 
Contributed Film still of Dorothea Lange in 1936 by Paul Taylor. Contributed In the film, Taylor looks into the past and brings her grandmother’s story into the 21st century.

In a sense, the film is a family project for its chronicling of Lange’s history. As people watched it Taylor realized something else. “It’s about our history,” Taylor said, meaning American history.

Her grandmother not only documented the Depression, but also photographed Japanese-Americans interned in Manzanar, a California relocation camp during World War II.

Lange achieved all she did under trying conditions, dealing with a strange gait due to a leg damaged by polio and traveling long before the days of air-conditioned cars and Interstate highways.

That part of her grandmother’s career also fascinates Taylor, who is impressed with how her grandmother dealt with the physicality of the travel.

Lange lugged heavy equipment around the country in those days before digital film, when everything was more difficult.

“What must it have been like to carry heavy tri-pods?” Taylor wondered.

Although Lange often traveled with others, including her second husband, she also struck out solo. “When she did ‘Migrant Mother,’ she was alone,” Taylor said.

Lange’s legacy rubbed off on her granddaughter in many ways. “Her sense of classical composition has stayed with me,” Taylor said.

That sense of classical composition will be on screen at the festival.

Bonita Springs International Film Festival

Where: Moe Auditorium and Film Center

When: Friday, Feb. 12 to Tuesday, Feb. 16

Countries of origin: Include the U.S., Cuba, France, United Arab Emirates, Britain, Canada, Argentina, Turkey, Finland, Sweden

Tickets: Range from $15 for single film general admission to $200 festival badge

Info: 495-8989 or www.artcenterbonita.org

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