Westermann: Memorial to the Idea of Man If He Was an Idea is a 3-D documentary film about the life and work of artist and marine H.C. (“Cliff”) Westermann. As a veteran of World War II and the Korean War who struggled with the ramifications of modern warfare, Westermann’s dramatic personal history can be traced through his beguiling, surreal artworks. Westermann: Memorial to the Idea of a Man If He Was an Idea explores the themes of Westermann’s life and work, including resiliency, hope, and humor. Westermann used art as a means of processing the trauma of war, and in spite of these horrors, he adopted an empathic and hopeful spirit that courses through his artwork and relationships, becoming an inspiration to many young artists. The film features featuring interviews with Ed Ruscha, Frank Gehry, William T. Wiley, Billy Al Bengston, and other artist-pals. The film is executive produced by the internationally acclaimed artist, KAWS, along with award-winning documentary producer Caryn Capotosto. Westermann features music by legendary artists Laurie Anderson (with the Kronos Quartet) and Terry Allen. MacArthur “Genius Grant” winner Tomeka Reid composed the original score. Director Leslie Buchbinder joins us for a conversation on enlisting Academy Award nominated actor Ed Harris to voice the writings of Westermann, the enduring influence that H.C. Westerman had on his chosen pursuit of sculptor as well as his philosophical approach to art and work ethic that continues impact other accomplished artists.
About the filmmaker – Leslie Buchbinder is a Chicago-based writer, director, and founder/Artistic Director of Pentimenti Productions, an arts non-profit dedicated to producing, supporting, and exhibiting films about art and artists. Prior to film-making, Buchbinder was a professional dancer in companies in Chicago and San Francisco, then pivoted to a career in international arts public relations in NYC and Chicago, where she established her own company working with local and international museums. Her directorial debut was the award-winning, critically acclaimed Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists, a 2014 documentary chronicling the history and impact of an iconoclastic group of young artists from the School of the Art Institute, often referred to as Chicago’s answer to Pop Art. Buchbinder’s second feature, Westermann: Memorial to the Idea of Man If He Was an Idea, is being released in 2023.