There’s a tremendous opportunity with this film for conversations about access and the
role that culture
can play in bridging the deep divide between middle
America and the coasts, the general public and
the so-called “elites.”
MORE ART UPSTAIRS was shot in Michigan and features a public that votes dramatically differently from the art world experts who fly into town to serve as jurors. Both are
baffled by the other’s selections of which art should win this citywide competition. This is ultimately a hopeful story because everyday people – more than a million – manage to
step out of their Facebook silos and come together, despite deep disagreements, to
have a thoughtful conversation about art.
I appreciate how ArtPrize’s Kevin Buist, who functions as the film’s Virgil, puts it,
“Everything is worth looking at critically. If I don’t like an artwork it’s not enough to just
dismiss it. I want to figure out why crowds love it and why I am put off by it.”
ArtPrize, the contest in which our characters compete, grabbed my attention after I’d
worked on several projects in the capital “A” art world. Painting and populism don’t
often appear in the same sentence in those refined circles, so the promise of certain
pretensions being stripped away and everyday people engaging with contemporary
art and artists intrigued me.
I wondered whether the artists would tire of having to explain their art to hundreds of
visitors each day. I wanted to know how the art world experts would react to the scene
– would they dismiss it as spectacle or take note of the crowds spending an entire day
looking at and talking about art? Were there any lessons here for the capital “A” art
world when it comes to making art more accessible…without dumbing it down?
Jody Hassett Sanchez is president of Pointy Shoe Productions, a documentary and long-
form TV production company. Her film SOLD Fighting the New Global Slavery has been broadcast in more than 60 countries, screened on more than a thousand campuses
and included in the State Department’s international cultural affairs program.
Before becoming a filmmaker, Jody covered religion, culture, and education for ABC’s
World News Tonight and filed stories for Nightline. Previously, she traveled the globe as
CNN’s State Department producer and launched an art program that aired on CNNI
and Delta flights.
Jody was a senior producer of CNN’s Cold War Postscript, a 24-part series that
examined legacies of the Cold War. She was also part of the CNN team that won a
national Emmy award for breaking news coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing and
the ABC team that won a national Emmy for 9/11 coverage.
Jody is the founder and director of the Africa Film Project, a documentary boot camp that disrupts the traditional model of Western journalists and filmmakers telling Africa’s stories. AFP equips African filmmaker-journalists with the technical resources and editorial skills
to create their own short documentary films.