The Greenaway Alphabet
Directed by Saskia Boddeke • Documentary • 2017 • 70 minutes
The fascinations of filmmaker Peter Greenaway, whose motto is "art is life and life is art,"are captured like butterflies and arranged in an alphabet, a form that suits him perfectly as an encyclopedist. In intimate conversations with his perceptive 16-year-old daughter Zoë, we discover the whos, whats and whys about Greenaway. They begin with A, which stands for Amsterdam, but could also stand for autism, Zoë suggests. Greenaway’s boundless creativity, unconstrained flow of words and passion for collecting certainly bring this to mind, and he admits to wearing the label with pride. The playful conversations don’t shy away from more painful topics; we hear that Greenaway hasn’t seen two other children of his for years. And later, heartbroken and in tears, Zoë asks him if for once he’ll stop talking like a commentator. Zoë’s spontaneous questions penetrate Greenaway to the core, enabling his wife, multimedia artist Saskia Boddeke, to make a deeply personal portrait not only of the artist, but also of Greenaway the father in his battle against time.