Thursday, April 24, 2014 2:38 PM EDT
By SCOTT WHIPPLE — STAFF WRITER
NEW BRITAIN — Michael Maglaras admits he’s an old-fashioned film maker. “I like to tour with my films,” says Maglaras, 63. “I will never get tired of touring, of greeting people at the door, of hanging around afterwards for the question-and-answer sessions.” Maglaras and his wife, fellow filmmaker, Terri Templeton, will be on hand tonight (Thursday) for a Q&A session following their film, “The Great Confusion: the 1913 Armory Show” at the New Britain Museum of American Art.
Speaking by phone, Maglaras, who wrote, directed and narrated the film, says it became clear to him that America was entering the 20th century — its greatest century of achievement as a nation. “It [marked] the beginning of our preeminence on the world stage and achievement, certainly in politics, culture and art.”
Though Maglaras is quick to point out that making films is extremely demanding and labor intensive, he says that he and his wife enjoy it much and “are committed to the idea that our public understands the importance of American art of the 20th century.” Their films include “O Brother Man: The Art and Life of Lynd Ward” about the “father” of the American graphic novel and “Let the Paint be Paint” about the painter, John Marin.
The Sacramento Bee calls Maglaras a filmmaker of “Bergman-like gravitas.” His five films have been described as “virtuoso filmmaking” (National Gallery of Art), “alive and fresh” (Art New England), “elegiac and insightful” (Naples Daily News), and “unforgettable” (Journal of American History). David Berona, author of “Wordless Books” says of “O Brother Man” “This film is stunning,” and Judith Regan of Sirius XM calls it “magnificent.”
In 2012, Maglaras and his wife realized that February, 2013 was the 100th anniversary of the most important art show in America, and a film about its artistic controversy was needed. Together, he and Templeton worked with the Archives of American Art in Washington, DC. “We put this film together in eleven months so we could get it out in time for the anniversary of the art show,” he said.
When NBMAA’s Director Douglas Hyland heard about their project he was thrilled. “He’s a man of wide-ranging enthusiasm,” Maglaras said of Hyland. “He embraces good stuff, and is open to change. When I told him we were making the film he slapped me on the back and said, ‘Let’s show it in New Britain.’”
“Michael is a genius,” says Hyland. “He literally assumes the personality of the person he portrays and in his own way resurrects the person in the most amazing fashion. You come away with new insights and a full appreciation of his subjects.” Both Maglaras and his wife will be present tonight and look forward to meeting their viewers.
Hyland is looking forward to seeing the couple again. “Together they are the most creative couple I have met in Connecticut,” he says.
But, Maglaras’ mind may already be on his next project. Titled “Enough to Live On: The Art of the WPA” the film will celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Federal Art Project under Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. And, if you believe Maglaras, his next film is always his best. “With every film I strive to be a better storyteller, a better filmmaker,” he says. “I can take beautiful images and throw them up on the screen and leave you to your own devices. But, I’m not going to pay you back much of a dividend if you leave your comfortable home and there’s no underlying story.”
Scott Whipple can be reached at (860) 225-4601, ext. 319 or [email protected]