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The death of music icon Lou Reed this past Sunday had pop-culturalists of every breed sifting through the musician’s vast body of work. For good reason: His time with Velvet Underground and his later work as a solo performer is an essential slice of rock ‘n’ roll history. But Reed’s creativity extended beyond music. Before his death, Reed made appearances in a number of films and directed one of his own, Red Shirley, a documentary portrait of his cousin, Shirley Novick.
In the film, available to view through up-and-coming streaming service SnagFilms or via the embed below, Reed interviews the 99-year-old Novick about living through WWI, fleeing Poland during WWII, settling down as a seamstress and eventually marching in Washington in support of the civil rights movement.
Reed co-directed Red Shirley with art photographer Ralph Gibson. The film debuted at the 2010 Vienna International Film Festival before appearing stateside at the 2011 New York Jewish Film Festival.
Along with his foray into documentary directing, Reed also appeared in a number of films, including Wim Wenders‘ Faraway, So Close! and Wayne Wang‘s Blue in the Face. His songs were used in The Royal Tenenbaums, Trainspotting and Velvet Goldmine among other films.
In 2011, Reed told The Wall Street Journal that Red Shirley was a labor of love and that he only intended to make films on subjects he felt demanded his attention. “I realized if I didn’t do this, a connection to a lot of things would be lost forever. So there was great impetus to do this. The only other thing I would like to do is make a movie about martial arts. Like, travel around to different teachers and tournaments, compare techniques and training.”
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