Not a Still Life by Roberta Cantow

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Reviews In Print

“If you can, watch Not a Still Life and get a raw glimpse of a true character - in all his human complexity. A beautiful thing.”

Michael Kawa, Buffalo Niagra Film Festival Staff Writer

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“A narrative documentary of the life of Steve Stone, a charismatic gay Jewish man in his sixties. The film inspires reflection on the layers of identity people exhibit over the course of the lifespan and is useful for exploring issues of aging and personal growth. The film is potentially useful as an educational tool for academic, clinical, and community settings. Recommended.

Jacob Carber, New York State Library (Educational Media Review Online)

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Audience Reviews

“This film offers an opportunity to supplement various forms of academic curricula capable of benefiting the personal growth of various professionals in training, including fields of social work, sociology, counseling psychology, aging and cultural minority studies. In addition, the portrait of Steve Stone’s story in Not a Still Life provokes an opportunity for valuable reflection and discussion among various community-based organizations… committed to serving the needs of individuals facing similar struggles, questions, and opportunities. I am proud to endorse the educational value and personal insight offered through Not a Still Life.”

—Bryan McNutt, M.A., LMFT, GC-C, Psychotherapist (MFC 52348), Certified Grief Counselor

“Roberta Cantow has filmed, edited and compiled a beautiful story of one man’s life. His story is moving, enriched, heart-filled, and joyful at the same time that it is filled with sadness and frustration. There is an honesty in his willingness to lay open his life… his friends and community; his faith and warmth are an inspiration.”

—Rabbi John Rosove, Temple Israel of Hollywood

“I was intrigued with Steve’s story from the very beginning of the film. Many people, particularly gay men, can relate.The film reflects very well the times that we live in and is a tribute to compassion and understanding. It is an important piece, beautifully executed and strikingly honest.”

—Max Disposti , Executive Director, North County LGBT Resource Center

“I’m neither Jewish nor gay but I found Roberta Cantow’s documentary engrossing and psychologically compelling. It hits upon the AIDS epidemic, spiritual practice, cultural identity, and the burden of an idealized past. We follow Steve Stone, a gay man whose furniture building lover, Flint, parishes from AIDS during the 1980s. Steve feels compelled to keep his dead lover’s memory alive by maintaining their exotically decorated home and taking over Flint’s custom furniture company. At the same time, he becomes involved in a tolerant synagogue through the influence of a Jewish relative. Steve’s a funny guy, both exhibitionistic and philosophical and his seeming paradoxes keep the film fascinating. Cantow has crafted an artful portrait, using clever cut-aways and subtle audio editing.”

—Steve M.

“The film’s subject was identical to so many of my friends who perished during the 1980’s and 1990’s. People who think I’m cool and fabulous and kooky say to me, “You’re one in a million.” But I counter with, “Yep, but I used to be just one OUT of a million.” To me, he isn’t unusual but instead would blend in perfectly with so many of my old social circle. I could show your film to friends and say, “See? This is how we all were.” The film has resonance.”

—Doug B.

“The film creates notions of myth and reality. The mythical elements arise from your shots of his garden and the back of his house that faces the garden. These shots give us the notion and feeling that Steve is in Eden, alone but very content. These mythic concepts are furthered by our seeing Steve gracefully, elegantly, and effortlessly glide through the water like a large sea mammal, a unique beast found only in Steve’s Eden. But then, on the other hand, you remind us that Steve is of this earth, with his debt, maintaining his business, his tragic loss, his painful loneliness, his regrets, his temper, and most of all, his temptation to sell Eden! And finally, bridging myth and reality, is Steve’s participation in Judaism. Brilliantly done!”

—James P.

“We just watched Not a Still Life and found it a really enjoyable and reflective experience. The shots are so beautiful, the recurring images of him in that glorious water, in that beautiful place, but kind of lonely all the same. He unfolds in such an interesting way; just when you start to get an impression of him, some other facet appears. It has some very moving moments for us. We appreciated Steve’s relationship with Flint and Steve’s struggles as a person, and also his playfulness and seriousness, exuberance and how reflective he was. I also liked that shot of him upside down at the beginning. Very quirky, set something up about him right away.”

—Jan and David C.

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