By Nehru Odeh
American artist Linda Karshan never saw it coming. But she lived to tell the story. And her biopic about how the mental battles she fought during Covid-19 lockdown inspired a burst of artistic creations is now the rave of the moment in movie circuits.
That indeed sums up the inspiring story of how she turned what looked like misfortune into fortune, producing great art works. And she documented that feat by turning her experiences into a movie entitled Linda Karshan: Covid-19 Conversation.
This inspirational short documentary about her creative rebirth is setting records on the international film festival circuit. Not only has it won three major awards at film festivals across the globe, it has also had an unprecedented number of nominations.
“Covid-19 Conversation is a testament to human resilience, and to the role of memory in the mark making of artists. It is Linda’s requiem for her father,” says Ishmael Fiifi Annobil, London-based Ghanaian poet and film maker who directed the movie and has received praises at several film festivals for his outstanding work.
The biopic tells the story of how Karshan, while under Covid-19 lockdown in New York, recalls her father’s crippling polio affliction in the 1952/53 epidemic, the social alienation, and his gallant battle against it. That inspired her to “push back” by producing her most prolific body of work to date, “…because I can stand, and he could not.”
It shows Karshan at her prolific and eloquent best, “offering a rare insight into her inner and outer impulses during her ‘channelling’ of the unique art pieces, and the influential, ‘dowsing’ role played by her agent, Jill Silverman van Coenegrachts, throughout that process.
Central to this lyrical film is the heroic figure of Linda’s father, Roger E. Joseph, a decorated World War II hero, who outlived his doctor’s pessimistic prognosis by sixteen years, resuming his legal practice in his family’s law chambers, and championing many humanitarian and human rights causes.
Shot on a single day and on a single camera, Covid-19 Conversation features poignant anecdotes, rich family photography, and offers a mesmerising tableau of the actual Covid Works Linda created during her lockdown epiphany.
The awards the movie has won so far include: Winner, Best Short Documentary Award, Mykonos Film Festival (Greece); Winner of the Best Covid Special Film Award at Luleå International Film Festival (Sweden); Winner of the Diamond Award for Best Covid-Documentary Film, Nawada International Film Festival (India).
Other film festivals in which the movie received nominations include Florence Film Awards (Italy) and Hollywood Blvd Film Festival (USA), Five Continents International Film Festival (Venezuela), Cinalfama International Film Screenings and Awards (Portugal).
It was also a finalist at the French Riviera Film Festival (Best Documentary), Sweden Film Awards; and shortlisted for the ARFF Berlin Film International Awards (Germany).
Stonedog Productions under which imprint the movie was produced, is an international film collective conceived in 2006 by Ghanaian poet, filmmaker and journalist Ishmael Fiifi Annobil to engage a small group of international film and photography professionals.
Stonedog has since grown into one of the biggest film collectives in the United Kingdom, boasting 25 active members in the UK and abroad, and an impressive roll call of collaborators and associates.
“We are noted for our peerless storytelling, aesthetics, poetics and risk-taking. We embrace both realism and surrealism with equal passion, and flow seamlessly between the documentary and fiction idioms. Central to our approach are actors, whom we view as very important interpretative artists.
“Furthermore, we pride ourselves on our ability to do the impossible on any budget, without compromising our narrative or visual refinement. We believe in collaboration as a way round budgetary pressures, so as to concentrate on the playmaking process. This approach also guarantees our continual evolution as an art group,” the group stated.