SXSW Film Review: The Incomparable Rose Hartman

Singular photographer captures New York nightlife

A living testament to one of her most iconic photos, Rose Hartman arrived on the back of a white horse at the world premiere of the documentary about her life.

Bianca Jagger rides a horse into Studio 54 for her birthday party in 1977. (Photo Courtesy of Rose Hartman)

Hartman carved her place in history with fearless ambition and an eye for photographing split-second intimate moments of high fashion and celebrity; her fascination with “penetrating the fame” of attractive stylish people landed shots of every famous name in the scene. First time director Otis Mass peeks behind the lens to find out what makes Hartman tick in this portrait of a portraitist.

One surprising reveal is a look at how her less than rosy childhood contributed to her eccentric, occasionally aggressive, brilliantly bonkers personality. Predominantly through interviews with friends and colleagues, Mass examines a small-statured woman who made a big name for herself in the fiercely exclusive, male-dominated fashion world of the Seventies and Eighties, and whether her work is paparazzi-style photos or high art with historical value. Does he actually crack the protective mystique and get the full scoop on the real Rose? Hard to say. Regardless, this colorful archive of 40 years of unprecedented access to backstage fashion shows and over-the-top nightlife is as charming and as full of life as the subject herself.


The Incomparable Rose Hartman

Documentary Spotlight, World Premiere
Monday, March 14, 11:30am, Alamo Slaughter
Tuesday, March 15, 8:30pm, Alamo South Lamar
Saturday, March 19, 3pm, Alamo South Lamar

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
Sound on Sound Review: Car Seat Headrest
Sound on Sound Review: Car Seat Headrest
Slacker Pavement hooks meet James Murphy’s drollness

Doug Freeman, Nov. 6, 2016

ACL Review: Anderson Paak
ACL Review: Anderson Paak
Hip-hop/R&B fusionist takes an ATX victory lap

Alejandra Ramirez, Oct. 9, 2016

More by Jessi Cape
High School Sophomore Fundraises to Feed Hungry Students
High School Sophomore Fundraises to Feed Hungry Students
Many students are especially food insecure during pandemic holidays

Nov. 25, 2020

New Organizations Step Up to Provide Free Local Food During the Pandemic
New Organizations Step Up to Provide Free Local Food During the Pandemic

Nov. 27, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

SXSW 2016, SXSW Film 2016, The Incomparable Rose Hartman

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle