Q: This may seem like an obvious question, but what’s the movie about? The title is “Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry,” but the viewer never sees him, other than in old photographs, and only hears his voice on occasion.
I wanted to make a portrait. I didn’t want to do a sprawling issues piece. I had done that, and artistically, I was inspired by the idea of a portrait -- something more intimate.
If you look at the definition of a portrait, it’s a likeness of someone. There are many different ways to draw a portrait.
When I got to know Wendell better, he made it clear that, first, he didn’t want to be on camera and, second, no story could be about him, because we live in a culture where people like to idolize people and put them up on a pedestal that’s not real.
He explained that he is his place, that he’s nothing but for the people around him -- his family, his neighbors, his friends.
That’s where I got the idea of a portrait. It’s the shape of him, but the frames of this portrait are his place -- what he sees, and what he cares about. It can’t be the likeness of his face, because that wouldn’t reflect the essence, just some piece of the essence of this person.
Read the whole interview at Faith & Leadership.