I’ve been hoping for years that a proper documentary about the enigmatic Argentinian artist might surface, and here one is at last. Leonor Fini (1987) was directed by Chris Vermorcken, and as a portrait of an artist it’s almost as good as the films the BBC used to produce for the Arena arts strand. I say “almost” because the Arena template tended to blend a biographical sketch with the life of the artist or writer at the present moment. Vermorcken encourages Fini to tell us about her early years in Trieste up to her meeting with the Surrealists in Paris, after which the discussion meanders to her vast company of Persian cats and the various forms of her painting and drawing.
Unlike most other films about Fini, this one is subtitled throughout so we can enjoy her reading from some of the stories that accompany her drawings, and also find out which films she liked. (Fellini’s Casanova was a favourite.) There’s also an appearance by Konstanty Jelenski, one of the points of the bisexual ménage à trois formed by Jelenski, Fini and Count Stanislas Lepri, all of whom lived together in the cat-infested house. Essential viewing here.