Not a Still Life by Roberta Cantow

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Online Reviews

A Wonderfully Poignant Film

Sharon G. F.— Reviewed in the United States on August 1, 2020

“Not a Still Life” is the remarkable telling of a remarkable man’s journey through a life filled with joy, sadness, rediscovery, and a joie de vivre that never deserts him. In Roberta Cantow’s beautifully filmed documentary, Steve Stone, gay, Jewish, always engaging, and often irreverent, reflects on the relationships and experiences that allowed him to emerge whole from difficult times. Frankly discussing his sexuality, his family’s disapproval, his return to Judaism, and the heartbreaking loss of his long-time partner, Steve will make you laugh and cry, and ultimately, want to give him a hug.

Wonderful Gem of a Life/Film

Anonymice— Reviewed in the United States on May 31, 2019, Verified Purchase

I am not male, nor gay, nor Jewish, but I am human and that is what this film so poignantly documents. Steve is an older guy and I am an older gal and the film shows that while we gain experience and wisdom, we also can become isolated, lonely, and vulnerable to loss and big life changes. I very much relate to all three of those, plus others and this film is a good reflection of my life. I laughed, I cried. Steve has done a lot in his life, and is a real pistol, I guess you could say and his story captured me for the length of the film. I was sorry when it was over. This is a gem of a film; too bad these get lost on Prime amongst the superheroes and terrible studio films. I'd love a sequel to see how his life goes on. This is not a reality type show, just Steve telling us about his life and giving us a little gift of finding your light. It helps to hear that we are not alone in our losses, my spiritual path, our changes. This film will no doubt mean different things to everyone who watches it, and that is its strength.

Life if Beautiful

Judy—Reviewed in the United States on July 5, 2018, Verified Purchase

An honest and engaging, heartfelt peek into the life of Steve Stone, a Jewish gay man reflecting on his life, including religion, relationships,and love and partnership.

 Engaging, Funny, and Often Moving Indie Portrait--Well Worth A Look!

Daniel S.— Reviewed in the United States on May 8, 2017, Verified Purchase

A wonderfully engaging and sometimes moving story of Steve Stone, a seemingly ordinary person--gay, Jewish man in his 60s--whose struggles to love and make peace with the world are turned into an extraordinarily insightful experience--especially as presented in Roberta Cantow's loving portrait, NOT A STILL LIFE. Revealed primarily through interviews with Steve (over visuals that too often showcase his love of swimming--depicted with and without a swimsuit), and a couple of his neighbors, we see a life of exuberance and irreverence as Steve tries to live a gay life while honoring the principles of Judaism. We learn about his first and only great love--a sophisticated man named Flynt--from earlier in Steve's life, a man who deeply moved him--as Steve revealingly put it "He was everything I never dreamed I wanted." At its heart, NOT A STILL LIFE is a charming and poignant love story. Steve Stone may not be a household name but once you meet him in this memorable portrait you will not forget him.

 What Happens When You Take A Different Path

Kristina— Reviewed in the United States on March 21, 2019, Verified Purchase

An engaging documentary about an older, gay and Jewish man who faced various challenges throughout his life.

Well worth the watch... a beautiful display of humanity.

Mr. Z— Reviewed in the United States on March 31, 2019, Verified Purchase

Quite an endearing film about a sweet gay man, Steve Stone who’s lived and lives through the trials and tribulations of life only to make the best of what is in his life’s path. This documentary took me by surprise because there was is so much I can relate with. This is a film I will always remember.

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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