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'Bill Cunningham New York' Screening At LACMA

03/24/2011 06:25 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Story courtesy of DeidreCrawford.com

By Deidre Crawford

After opening to enthusiastic reviews in New York last week, “Bill Cunningham New York” premiered at LACMA last night in a special preview screening hosted by The Costume Council of LACMA.

The lively documentary by director Richard Press and former New York Times photo editor Philip Gefter effectively mimics Cunningham’s intimate style, shooting him without a crew and capturing him on the job and in his day-to-day life, chasing the streets of New York for the perfect shot.

“Our passion for who Bill is as a person –- that’s really what I was interested in capturing,” said Press, when speaking about his motivation for doing the documentary.

The legendary New York Times photographer has been photographing New York street style for more than 40 years. Readers know him from his weekly “On the Street” slideshow, which captures picturesque scenes of New York city life from his vantage point atop his ever-present bicycle.

Some of the attendees at the New York-themed party included Decades owner Cameron Silver and Annie Flanders, founding editor of Details magazine and a long-time friend of Cunningham.

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Bill Cunningham In New York

Far more than a fashion photographer, Cunningham has played a key role in understanding and portraying the city. As an observer of New York society and style, his Manhattan street scenes and “Evening Hours” photo column document the city’s doyennes, club kids and eccentrics, examining how New Yorkers are putting their own twist on trends.

“He’s a national treasure,” insisted Louise Green, a Los Angeles-based milliner.

From capturing love children in Central Park in the 60s (in black and white, no less, since he couldn’t afford color film), to documenting present-day gender-bending downtown clubbers in Tribeca, Cunningham has served as an urban anthropologist for the city.

“It’s so nice to have somebody who’s not obsessed with celebrity and artifice – someone who’s genuinely interested in what they’re genuinely interested in,” said Linda Lay, a writer and artist who attended the screening.

The unflaggingly energetic 82 year-old Cunningham maintains that in order to report on fashion, one must cover the whole spectrum –- runway, street style and evening wear -– to capture not only what the designer wants to portray, but more importantly, how the everyday woman is incorporating it into her life.

Press and Gefter’s engrossing portrayal of the intensely private photographer do both him and the inadvertent style-setters of New York justice: Cunningham’s boyishness, zest for life and affectionately calling people “kid,” reveal the picture of a man who clearly enjoys his work, his subjects and his life.

“Bill Cunningham New York” opens in Los Angeles March 25.

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