Runtime: 30 minutes
Director: Alexandria Jackson
Stars: Sophie Kipner, Baron Wolman
By Joan Amenn
Baron Wolman lived quite a full life. As a photojournalist for Rolling Stone Magazine, he shot some of the most iconic pictures of the twentieth century. Sophie Kipner is a uniquely talented artist who creates stunning portraits. Can this odd couple from different creative mediums collaborate without driving each other crazy? That is the question explored in the short film “Sophie and the Baron.”
If you were a rock-and-roll star in the 1960’s, Wolman almost certainly took your picture. If you were just one of hundreds of kids who showed up at Woodstock, there is a good chance Baron snapped a photo of you there, too. He seemed to have been wherever something happened in that very happening era, and somehow all of his pictures retain their immediacy and power. He was at the right place at the right time, but he is also a natural visual composer.
Kipner’s art is a spontaneous free association of lines forming arabesques on canvas. The film tells the story of how she serendipitously met Wolman one night when she was tending bar. They clearly enjoy each other’s company as they grow in mutual respect and understanding of each other as creative equals.
It would have been nice to have Wolman recount some of his memories of the era he caught on film in a little more depth, especially since he died in 2020 and the film is dedicated to his memory. Director Alexandria Jackson instead focuses on a particularly detailed photo he took at Woodstock and Kipner’s attempt to reinterpret it on canvas. It is a huge undertaking, but Kipner is both sanguine and enthusiastic about the opportunity. Seeing her work process is fascinating and definitely the highlight of this short documentary. It is hard to decide which artist is more delighted by the finished work. Jackson captures their heartwarming mutual joy in surveying the gallery on the opening night of Kipner’s show and makes “Sophie and the Baron” pure fun for creative fun’s sake.