More than 175 films by my count, among many that are part of the magazine’s current edition Chicago International Film FestivalOne of the shortest is also one of the best, because it provides audiences with an exciting and intimate visit with one of our city’s most passionate and engaging artists.
The name of this artist is Nick Cave, and the name of the woman who made the film is Claude-Aline Nazaire-Miller. “376 Days (Nick Cave: ‘Keep it Movin’)” is a wonderful portrait of an artist, even though it is his first film and is only 37 minutes long.
“Part of it was having full access to these wonderful people,” Miller says. “They helped me a lot in finding my story within the time frame given to me. I was able to observe them as much as I needed, which allowed me to create my vision for the film. I loved watching them work. And their trust in me made me very strong. “It was easy to tell their stories because they opened up to me and they are all such beautiful people.”
Cave came to Chicago from his native Missouri in the late 1980s and began teaching at the Art Institute School. His art has been exhibited in exhibitions around the world. his first major career retrospective titled “Moreover” It opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art in May 2022 and runs until early October 2022.
That exhibition, which will later move to the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, is the focus of the film, along with “The Color Is,” a fashion-focused multimedia exhibition at the DuSable Museum of African American History last year. A selection of clothing and accessories created by Cave and his brother Jack Cave.
Both spectacles are captured magnificently in Miller’s film, which also features Cave’s creator and life partner, Bob Faust; his brother Jack Cave, an artist, designer and School of Art lecturer; and their mother, Sharon, browsing through the MCA full of her son’s work, charmingly says on camera: “This show leaves me speechless.”
There are minimal talking heads, but one of the best is Naomi Beckwith, deputy director and chief curator of the Guggenheim and formerly senior curator of the MCA.
It was MCA who suggested a short film about the creation of “Forothermore.” Cave approached Miller. “We were friends and had many conversations about art and life,” he says. “Still, when he asked me if I wanted to make a movie about him, I was of course flattered, but also very touched. How can I not do this?”
And so the film grew; the first MCA budget was enriched by Miller’s bank account; “Of course it’s a limited budget,” he says. And he worked with his team to record the preparations for both shows, interviewing participants and creators for nearly a year, starting in late September 2021.
“I was running around the whole time, I was so excited,” he says. “I would try to be a fly on the wall. I couldn’t get enough of this process, so much so that Nick would sometimes see me and say, ‘What, are you here again?’ he said.
“But Nick trusted me, and I was empowered by that,” he says.
Claudie, as everyone calls her, is a first-generation Haitian American, one of three girls growing up on the South Side, and a graduate of Seton Academy in Romeoville and Lewis University. She became a social worker at the respected child welfare agency Lutheran Child and Family Services. There she encountered the struggles of foster children and families for over a decade and was so moved that she began documenting their stories in words and photographs.
“I’ve always been interested in photography,” he says.
While working as a flight attendant for United Airlines (which he still does occasionally), he opened a small photography studio in London. Fine Arts Building.
At that point, she had never heard of the man who would become her husband.
Sandro Miller is an internationally known and admired photographer with many gallery exhibitions and many books. He and I first met more than twenty years ago while photographing baseball great Bill “Moose” Skowron.
Claudie met him when she attended the opening of a gallery exhibition of his work. They both will tell you it was “love at first sight” and they got married in 2013. They live in a house and studio in West Town that is a lively, art-filled yet homey wonder.
Thanks to his wife, he met dozens of artists, including Cave and Faust.
She and Sandro have successfully recovered from two battles with cancer, and she has continued her photography as best as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic and has also begun doing corporate advertising for television.
“Sandro was never intrusive, but he was always very supportive, willing to listen to me, hear my concerns, nurture my ideas.”
She doesn’t have a quick answer as to how many hours the film was shot, undoubtedly hundreds, perhaps even thousands, and she finally screened the final film in August 2022 to a very special audience consisting of her husband Cave and Faust.
“Yes, I was nervous,” he says. “This was a huge leap for me. I was praying that the outcome would please them. I was watching their faces for a reaction, and I could tell right away. … They were laughing. They were crying.”
Private screenings were later held at the MCA and for the Guggenheim board, and the response there was equally enthusiastic. He started applying to film festivals. CIFF was the first to accept the film.
Miller is proud of the film, but generally self-effacing when talking about it, eager to lavish praise on all his collaborators. He will credit editor Craig Lewandowski, who “understood my vision for the film and grasped my ideas perfectly.” He’ll tell you about composer Ivan Iusco, who “created original music for the film that reflected my feelings and spirit of what the film should sound like.” There are others too.
“My understanding is that any artistic endeavor is a collaborative effort,” he says. “Making this movie took a lot out of me physically and emotionally, but it also taught me a lot and enriched me.”
his movie will be displayedon Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. at the Siskel Film Center (164 N State St.; tickets $15) and on Oct. 22 at 3:30 p.m. at the Chicago History Museum with another short film called “Chronicle of a Summer Day.” together (1601 N Clark St.; tickets $22). Miller will appear in both with outfits designed by Nick Cave and a well-deserved smile of success.
The Chicago International Film Festival continues until October 22; For schedule, venue locations and tickets, go to: chicagofilmfestival.com