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“Cinema is About the Body”: ‘Documentary’ Presents Claire Simon in Conversation

By Abby Sun

The two-night event, “Documentary Presents Claire Simon in Conversation,” relaunches IDA’s longstanding Conversation Series with the most acclaimed documentary filmmakers of our times. On August 1, 2023, French filmmaker Claire Simon sat down with me in a free-wheeling discussion of her extensive body of work, its formal fluidity between documentary and fiction, and her belief in the capacity of every person to be the center of the story. 

The masterclass was followed by a sneak preview screening of her latest documentary, Our Body, before it opened in theaters in NY and LA. Both events were co-presented with Mezzanine, an irregular screening series created and curated by Micah Gottlieb, at 2220 Arts + Archives in Los Angeles.

The following transcript of the conversation has been edited for length and clarity. To access the video recording of the conversation, click here.

DOCUMENTARY: Claire Simon's film career started in the 1970s as an editor before she took a course from a legendary film training program, co-founded by the French ethnographic filmmaker Jean Rouch, called Ateliers Varan. From there, Claire started directing her own projects, achieving international success with Récréations (1993). Uniquely, Claire films all her documentaries and even some of her fiction—it's one of the defining features that make the porosity between fiction and nonfiction in her films so interesting because the fiction sometimes looks like documentaries and the documentaries have some staging that one might find more in fiction. She finds her subjects in institutions, hallways, and public spaces; she finds them among people who are undocumented, women, and in the margins. I'm not going to tell you her email address, but she also has the best email address that teaches you how to pronounce her name. Thank you so much, Claire, for joining us today.

I'd like to start at the beginning. You had been on the editing team of fiction films, and then you made some short films and through one of them, you were connected with Ateliers Varan. What led you to pick up a camera?

CLAIRE SIMON: Oh, I wanted to direct. That's why I was editing. I was the intern, then assistant editor, and then I began to edit myself. I also edited documentaries and did studies of anthropology and Arabic. As I was brought up in the south of France, I felt that I was more comfortable with our people, Algerian, than people from Paris. When I was 20, with the first money I earned, I did a short fiction film. Then I did another film. There was a sort of fund for research and I did a long film of 40 minutes. At that time, it was the beginning of the ’80s and I was so sad to see that people were writing and rewriting scripts—I thought it was a nightmare to do a film. When I was an assistant editor, the first time I saw a Depardon movie, his first film Numéros Zero (1981), I was amazed to see stories of people in real life. I would see Robert Kramer and Johan van der Keuken films, and I was really into that. My idea was: so there is a crisis of scriptwriting? The one thing that writes stories is money. If you keep on watching the relationship of the people you want to film with money, you always have a story. 

I made three short films about money. I filmed my friend who was a secretary at the Ateliers Varan, and I filmed a friend in the south of France with whom I later did Human Geography (2013), who had to borrow money all the time, so he had a lot of problems and people were furious with him. It was very funny. And I made a film about my father who had multiple sclerosis and the relationship between not being able to move, and the person who was taking care of him. It was called One Day of Holidays, because I went one day just to film them for the time he could escape the hospital for a holiday. And then I was pregnant, and I had a baby. And then I thought, “Oh, I will never make it. It's too difficult…”

D: That's what happens to a lot of women filmmakers.

CS: It seemed so difficult. When my daughter was one year and a half, I went to edit a film in Portugal and there was an extraordinary story about a woman who robbed a child. And so I wrote the script about it, and I rewrote and I hated it. When I got the money, I cried because I thought, “How am I going to do with my daughter and everything?” But I did the film, in the end, because I thought it was an extraordinary crime, and it's very ancient. It's a crime of love, in a way. It's not a crime of blood. In the real story, the child was four years old when the real parents could get back to the child, who was perfectly okay. I thought it was because she was really wanted by this woman who robbed her. Before that, I did a film in Nice about a small company, and I knew the owner, and I thought he was a great character.

D: This film about the small company is At All Costs (1995), and the fiction film is A Foreign Body (1997). We’ll get there shortly. Before At All Costs, and A Foreign Body, you made a film called Récréations. Your daughter, Manon Garcia, who is now a feminist philosopher, is in Récréations, a film that takes place only in the recess time period between classes in a French kindergarten. You're filming from very down below so we're at the children’s eye level and totally immersed in their world. Adults only appear on the edges of the frames, and they're mostly sweeping up after the children's games. There's a devastating scene where there's a young boy and girl who spend such a long time building a house made of sticks, and then the teacher just comes and sweeps up all of their work. 

CS: The first time my daughter went in that school, I looked at the courtyard and I thought, “If she can manage this, she can manage everything. It'll be okay.” I was always hearing incredible stories. I remember she said, “It would be really nice if you would be a teacher at the school.” And I said, “Look, I'm going to work at your school.”

D: We're going to watch a scene from towards the end of the film. 

[Clip plays.] 

D: The suspense in the last chapter of the film, is: “Is she going to be able to jump?” I'll tell you afterward if you would like to know how it ends. But know that in Claire's films, no matter how brutal what we're watching on screen is, there's a triumph of the human will that shows through. In this film, the young children are often looking at you. They were doing things in front of you that I would assume that they don't do in front of their teachers. How did you work with children at that young age who don't really understand what a film is?

CS: They did understand. I told them, “I'm not a teacher. I'm not going to forbid anything, and I will only intervene if blood comes.”

[Audience laughs]

D: You are laughing, but there are some scenes where I was waiting for the blood to come.

CS: Once, the blood came with my daughter, but she had a nosebleed, so it was not bad. I remember a child who ate some mud in front of me to see what I was going to do, and I said, “It's your problem. It's not mine. I'm not a teacher.” But there is a scene where they spit and they make a competition between the different spit.

D: How far can the spit roll down the slide.

CS: The little boy, he was very nice. He was watching me and he says, “She's going to film us, right?” And they were doing the competition between their different spit. And, of course, it was very interesting. And so they understood. I explained to them that I was an old child. That me, too, I went to the kindergarten and played, and then I made a film to understand how they played. Young children understand if you are telling them that and you're doing that, they believe you and they're right. I was alone and I had the mic on the camera, but they are looking for stories that work between them. They were like scriptwriters. They try any story to see if there is one that is working.

D: We see them workshopping the different stories. For example, in the scene where the boy and the girl are building a house made of sticks, they do many scenarios until they find the one that they kind of agree on.

CS: In the first scene, the boy says, “I'm a hairdresser.” And then he says, “No, I'm a cop.” And they change all the time to see what is working between them. And it's very interesting because, when it changes, sometimes the one who wanted to do the story is going to be the victim of the story. And it was very exciting also to understand what was going on. But before that, I did another film, which is a film about a physician.

D: The Patients (1990).

CS: He was a friend of my father. And it was really there that I got freedom, because I rented the camera, and I went there three, two days a week when my daughter was not with me, but with her father. And then I really did the film how I wanted, because I was always scared that someone will explain to me how to do the film and everything. And I learned a lot about framing and doing all this in The Patients. And then in Récréations, I was always thinking of the editing and thinking, “Okay. I keep on shooting, but I will cut here and go back there.” That's why there are some scenes where it's very long and I cut it afterwards. But I mean, I learned a lot in those two films. Also, at that time, in the viewfinder, you would see in black and white, which was quite good because you could see only the light and the framing. And so it was very interesting to do that. 

But for Récréations,in English we call it Playtime, like the Tati film, the problem was that, when we edited it, we had some money from ARTE, and they said, “Yes, but the sound is awful. You hear too much,” because the playground is always very noisy. They wanted me to do a voiceover. I said, “No way. I'm going to dub it.” They looked at me as if I was crazy. And I said, “No, but that's okay. I will take the scenes and rerecord each child, exactly what they said.” We went to the courtyard when it was empty, with each child.

D: With the ADR, you're working with three- to five-year-olds as actors. This is actually why I really enjoy the French title of the film, because it's a pun. It’s about recreation, but also re-creation, of their original play and its rerecording.

CS: They were very good. And they understood that, really, I filmed them and it was not for nothing, and that it was a real moment, and they were going through the scene again. Every child. And it was wonderful, because the sound engineer and I lived quite close to the school. We were going back to my place, re-listening again, and again, and again, some parts. And then we understood, “Oh. She says that.” There is a technique, which is called the power technique in France. So you repeat exactly how it was, and they would repeat it. We did hours of recording. At that time, it was really a sort of incredible craft, because we had VHS or U-matic. And ARTE, I told them, "Okay. I'm going to ADR one sequence.” For Alex, the boy with the sticks. And we had witnesses. We showed them the sequence with my witness and their witness, and they looked at the scene. They said, “Yes. It's very interesting.” Then I did it for the whole film. 

It was very important for me that people would understand that the children were thinking, that they had words of their own, and that those words were very important, very precise, and that they meant real things. It was not just stupid chat of children. When this little boy who always lied on the ground, so another one came and walked on him—all the boys, they took him and they—

D: Drag him.

CS: Yeah. And they were saying, “Do you know who is the strongest here? It's me, it's not you.” I felt I was in a movie of the suburbs, really tough.

D: The way that I frequently describe this film to people is that it's Lord of the Flies, but in a French playground. With that, let’s move on to At All Costs. It is about a catering company in Nice, run by your friend named Jihad, which is one of the most common names in the Arab world. The film is not only about the manager but all of the company’s employees. Like Recréations and all of your films, there is this insistence that every single person who is on screen can be the focus of their own story. In At All Costs, the catering company is struggling, and scene by scene you see the managers and also all of the staff doing everything possible to cut costs to try to save the business. It's slipping from their grasp. But nobody ever gives up.

CS: There is a classical salad in France with Roquefort, which is a very good cheese that probably in America you don't like because there is moisture in it. They would say, “We do Roquefort salad without Roquefort,” because Roquefort was too expensive. They were doing it with so much taste and everything—it was very beautiful. Jihad was the manager that understood you have to be a good commercial—you have to go in the big supermarkets to show that you are strong. It was really the idea of a group of people who were mainly immigrants, and that they would do the capitalist idea and they would do it really well. Of course, it didn't work. But in starting companies, I don't know, 70% of them collapse. It had a very good moment when he had a lot of, how do you say?

D: They seemed to have a lot of accounts and clients.

CS: And then the company couldn't do all the cooking. It was too much. They couldn't go on. They worked until midnight.

D: It's a parable of capitalistic greed. You also seem to make films in pairs a lot, where there are some ideas that you pick up again in another film. The next two films that you made after At All Costs and A Foreign Body, were 800 Kilometers of Difference (2002) and Mimi (2003), both films from the 2000s. The focus is shrunk to a single person or a single relationship. With 800 Kilometers of Difference, it's your daughter Manon and her boyfriend, and you. And then with Mimi, it's you and your friend Mimi Chiola. There's so much storytelling, especially in Mimi, which I consider a masterpiece of a film. The film appears to be one very, very, very long walk between you and Mimi walking all throughout Nice and even up into the mountains. But I know you filmed much longer than that. How did you set that up?

CS: I wanted to do a fiction, but then I thought before doing this fiction, I should take Mimi in her city and bring her to places that I knew. I had filmed two films in Nice, so it was the third film. And we would wait for a memory that would come immediately when I was filming. It had to be true. It had to be that moment. The idea was with a sound, with something, with someone passing, she had a memory that came up. 

So we have the picture of what I am filming and Mimi talking and it's all sync. It's not made up afterward. The strongest moment for me was her special stories about her father who died during the war, because he was so hungry that he robbed a lemon and a German soldier saw him. It was all about being hungry. Then we go to a big stadium, and people are running around and there is tennis. And she says, “Oh, I've never been here.” And then suddenly she remembers that she used to see this woman who would go to tennis, and she was so impressed and she explained that she was in love with her. Then you understand that she's gay and she loves women, and everything comes like that in a place where she has never been. Little things are bringing the memory. There is a boy who is playing with a balloon, and it makes her remember the sound of the footsteps with the high heels in the courtyard. So it's all about evocation. My dream, and it didn't happen, was that her memories were all mixed up, but in fact she went from childhood to adolescence to adult age.

D: I've had some interesting conversations with filmmakers where they have told me that when they are operating a camera, it actually distracts them from what they are filming because they’re distracted by the technical parts. But for me, because I am used to filming on my own projects and operating the camera, I feel like it helps me see and hear and be present better. What was the relationship between your camera and you?

CS: It is really a trance. In this film, I was not always filming Mimi. I was filming things around her. We were doing a piece of cinema together. It was a trance because it began and we didn't know where it was going. I didn't know what she was going to say, and she was always surprised where I took her and the places I would film. And so it was trying to stage the story in the present. But in fact, it was the same as Recréations because it was always trying not to transcend but to stage what was really happening right now. To try to give the cinematographic look of the story that was told.

D: I also consider The Woods Dreams Are Made Of (2015) and Young Solitude (2018) together as a pair. Both of them feature stories of loneliness and things like that. The Woods Dreams Are Made Of takes place in the Vincennes Forest, which is quite large when I looked at it on a map of Paris, and traces the forest through the seasons. It's ethnographic in that it shows us all of the activities that happen within it as a microcosm of the world. There are people who go to the forest to come together and to celebrate. And there are people who go into the forest to escape and be alone. 

With Young Solitude, we have a film that is more heavily workshopped than your other documentaries. I read an interview where you said you were curious about the subject of young solitude, because people said that they felt pity for some of the people who are alone in The Woods Dreams Are Made OfYoung Solitude takes place at a high school, and you were hired to make a film about the high school, and then this came out of that. How did it happen?

CS: It was 10 students of a class of cinema one year before the end of high school. They met in that class. I was hired to do a short film with them. I met them and I said, “Okay, I was supposed to write the script. Before I write the script, I want to interview each of you and let's talk about something that we can all think about. I propose to you the word solitude, and we talk about that.” I was sure it was going to be stories between them and their friends and everything, but among the 10, there were seven that had separated families, and they hated their parents for that. They talked a lot about their loneliness in the family. And it was very strong, what they told me. The other thing was that I was helped—one was talking and two were helping me with the camera, the sound and everything. And so we did one, two, and then they changed. And then they would say, “Can I stay? Can I stay for the next one?”

I realized that they were so interested to know each others’ stories. I edited what I shot that day and then I came back and I said, “I think that we could do something where you would talk together, because you seem very interested in the story of one another. So why don't you talk between yourselves about your stories.”

High school is a place where you go to class, but it's also a place where you are happy to find your friends and talk with them. I used that. I was only telling them, “You and you, you could talk there.” Then they would talk and I was amazed by them and by the beauty of what they were saying, and the way they were saying it. I also asked them if they were okay to film for a weekend. So we also filmed what they were doing during weekends.

D: You have an incredible ability to understand people, but also to create a space where the people in your film feel comfortable revealing things. In The Woods Dreams Are Made Of, you find some people who are trying very hard to hide away: the woman who is living out of a tent and she doesn't want the police to find her,  a sex worker who tells them stories of how she's able to do her work in the woods. When you are approaching people in public, and it's in situations where they might not want to be filmed, how is it that you're approaching people? How do you understand why people might want to be in a film?

CS: Because their life is very interesting. Because what they do is very interesting. I explained to the people in the woods that I thought that the woods was the place of goodness, that everyone went there, you go there to do what you think is best—sex, sports, dream, religion, anything. Each time I explained to them why I was so interested in what they were doing in the woods, and they were convinced. I had a great chance with the sex worker, because we really got along so quickly. We looked for her for a long, long time because it was impossible to do that film without a sex worker, and it is the same with gay cruising. My theory with them is that I am an intern. 

There were also many funny things like, the fishermen who would come with their tent and everything as if they were in the mountains, but they arrived on the metro and went to McDonald's to have something to eat, and then they waited all night as if they were in the mountains. And I thought it was so nice that people were inventing their own stories. People are very creative and they make real worlds. I am absolutely interested in those worlds.

D: In between The Woods Dreams Are Made Of and Young Solitude, you made a documentary where the people in that film are actually not able to articulate their stories, because of the system that they are in. It's the film of yours that gets compared to Frederick Wiseman the most—The Competition (2016). We've heard a lot tonight about Claire as a filmmaker, but Claire was also a long-time educator at La Fémis, a French state film school. You left La Fémis in part because you wanted to be able to make this film and to truly show the entrance exams of the school, from the inside.

CS: What is different with Wiseman is that I'm filming and he's doing the sound, but also, time doesn't exist in Wiseman films. The Competition is on the contrary because there is a beginning. More than a thousand students arrive. A common point with the last film is that I never follow a single person. The suspense and the story always come from the competition itself. Here [in the U.S.] you have the right to film an institution. In France, it's much more complicated. I could do it because the director of the school trusted me. He liked my films. But we had to fight inside the school to impose this film. A lot of filmmakers who were coming to work at that school didn't want to be filmed. It was a big battle, but it was very moving to see those young candidates who were attacking the big castle and trying to get in. I liked those young people who were not accepted. That was a real story of young people.

D: What's incredible about The Competition is that we not only see the three different stages of the competition: a written exam, an oral interview, and then a kind of hands-on lab test, depending on what department you're applying to. After each stage, we hear the jury of instructors debating amongst the candidates and comparing them to each other. Note to filmmakers: This is also what film festival programming and film acquisition debates are like. What stands out is sometimes how little the instructors themselves seem to care about understanding the candidates.

CS: The film had no interest if we didn't see the discussion between the juries, because you could see that sometimes they didn't agree, but you could see all what they were projecting. My idea in the end is that the cinema workers—the filmmakers, the producers, the writers who were hired to do the judgment of the competition— were choosing their heirs. They were choosing who was going to continue their work.

D: There are two more films that I want to get to. Your most recent film before Our BodyI Want to Talk About Duras (2021) is a fiction film, but it’s quite interesting because you take pains in this film to let the audience know that every line of dialogue was an actual published interview between the last partner of the experimental filmmaker and writer Marguerite Duras, Yann Andrea, and a journalist, Michele Manceaux. And this whole interview was published—

CS: It was published after the deaths of everyone. It took place in 1982 and it was published in 2016. When everyone was dead, the cassettes were given to the sister of Yann Andrea. And she listened to them and she verbatim wrote everything down. And it came out as a book with the title I Want to Talk About Duras.

D: We’re about to watch a clip from about the middle of the film. These are actors, to be super clear. We'll reconvene afterwards. 

[Clip rolls.] 

There are some documentary trappings in the film, as you also incorporate archival footage of Marguerite Duras, brief excerpts of Duras’ films, and some drawings in a beautiful dream sequence in the middle where we see the actress playing Michele Manceaux, Emmanuelle Devos, walking through the woods again, back to her own house, and then she has her own dreaming and sexual desires. That is paralleled with a scene when Yann Andrea, played by Swann Arlaud, is talking about being gay and the real disagreement that he has with Marguerite Duras, and we also see his desires. What was so interesting to you to restage all of this?

CS: Because the text is amazing, the conversation is absolutely amazing. It's a sort of #metoo in reverse because they fall in love and they have like 38 years of age difference. But you can see that it's not the point. The point is the fact that he admires her so much, at the beginning he is courting her by letters and she never answers. Then he gets to know her and they are lovers. And then it turns bad and it turns terrible. He is submissive to her. What I found so strong about this interview is the fact that he, as a man brought up as a boy, could say, “Why did I accept this? Because I liked it.” He explained that very clearly—it's incredible, the lucidity, the intelligence he has about this relation.

In the end, he looks like the Melville character Bartleby. In France, the story was completely despised. Everybody thought he was a stupid guy, but you can see in this text that they had a great sex life. That's why I asked Judith Fraggi to do the drawings that the interviewer begins to see at night. I wanted to show that the conversation can be cinema, but also as you said, the archive of Duras, but there are also archives that I made of him going to see her of some scenes—when he goes to Trouville, and when he calls her on the telephone. I made them, those scenes like when he gets out of the train to, he escapes from her, and things like that. 

D: Those are made to look archival, but you filmed those.

CS: What I liked very much is the idea that I could tell a love story from this discussion, with parts of her films, the archive, and of the archive that I made. In adaptations, usually you use a text and you make scenes that you think are the story.

I didn't want to do that. I wanted to really use the words and make what I called a lacking archive. I think that there are lots of films that are lacking archives, and I think this is something that we do. A film in Cannes this year, Le Proces Goldman [The Goldman Case], it's also a lacking archive. Gare du Nord is a lacking archive also. It is the moments when you have to show, as a filmmaker, something that is lacking that maybe we can read about, but we don't see it. I will say that all my films, I think of them as I'm making archives that are lacking.

D: In your film God’s Offices, you show a fictional family planning clinic and consultations between the social workers and the woman who go in for appointments. So it shows women making some of the most important choices of their lives, should I have a baby or not? Should I keep a baby or not? We discussed at dinner that the real problem with these types of documentaries is that there's a patient confidentiality issue. What did you do for God’s Offices?

CS: I was invited to the US to do something else. And I stayed in Reno, where there was the first family planning. And I was amazed by what was going on, I could attend the consultations, and be with all the social workers and the doctors. I thought, “My God, this is so important and nobody knows about it.” It was the time of AIDS, but it was not about AIDS and it was not about domestic violence. It was about the ordinary things, “I forgot the pill, I am pregnant, should I take the pill?”

I decided that I would make a fake family planning clinic. At the beginning, I was a bit afraid of the fact that I would just do in fiction what I had seen. But then I realized it was really interesting. The decision I took was to take very famous actresses and actors to play everyone who was working in family planning, and unknown women would come to do the consultation. Very often family planning clinics are an the top of the buildings. It was always like viewing life from above. That's why it's called God's Offices. We had two staircases. The famous actresses took the great staircase, and the other ones took the domestic staircase. And they would never meet before we were shooting the first take, and it was only one take. 

D: Would you like to introduce the film that will be playing tomorrow, Our Body?

CS: The idea was to do the arc of life, of women, and to use the hospital as a tale, more than to film the hospital. I was really into filming women, from youth to old age, going through all the gynecology stories, whether it is having a baby, not having a baby, endometriosis, gender transition, cancer, or any other disease.

As a philosopher told me the other day in Boston, men go to hospitals because they are sick, and women go to hospitals because they are well. It is the normal stages of women's body. And I wanted to show because we all know what's going on, but we don't see it. That we see what is in the rituals is really the fresh part. And it's very important for me to that cinema is something that allows you to see and then to understand. Because you see, if you go to the fertility treatments, it is the whole story what a woman has to go through and what the man has to go through. Love is cut into slices to make a baby. It's a sort of factory of babies, really.

I think cinema is about the body from the beginning, from Charlie Chaplin. 

D: With that, are there any questions from the audience? 

Audience Member: Thank you. This is an amazing conversation, super insightful, and thank you for being here. I'm a documentary filmmaker. What are some skills that have served you well within the documentary form, either as an editor, as a director, or when you're operating? What are some things that for you have been useful either to keep in mind or to learn how to handle?

CS: As a woman, you have a good advantage because nobody takes you seriously. This is very good because then nobody is really very nervous about the fact that you film because you don't count. So it has an advantage. I never learned filming, and I learned through doing it. I like very much filming others. I like to find their beauty, their own relationship with their own body; how they move, how they talk, how they use their body.

The other thing is I film with headphones. I film listening. I am listening all the time. And I always have a sound engineer. And he or she is in charge of telling what's happening, and I'm in charge of trying to make a film, which is not the same thing. Because some sound engineers, they want to do the sound of your framing. And I always tell them, “No, you do the sound of what is happening, and I try to do the directing by my filming. If I'm far away, you have to have the right sound that everyone understands. And you shouldn't be exactly like where I am. You should do the sound of what is happening, and I decide how I film this.”

Audience MemberI’m curious about this tension of the public spaces. You're picking a public space but going into the private and people experiencing either memories or the space or even birth, death, or whatever. What is it about that curiosity that compels you to think that these private stories that people have is worthy? Or what is it that's universal about the private that people do in public or at the hospital?

CS: There is a big difference between America and France about this question of public space because we are a country of state, and public space is very important. For a film that I’m doing now, I did some scouting in the States, and I could see that, for example, the children in the courtyard in France, they think they are in the public space, and in America they don't.

It's very strong thing about the public space. But for example, the story of At All Costs, it was really a private story that I made public because I filmed it. And it was public because it was a question of money, of immigrants, of capitalism, of how the big supermarkets were killing the small enterprises, and what was the relationship of power and money. It's always much easier to see how things are going on in a small place than in a big place for cinema.

You're absolutely right that I am fascinated by the agora, the forum, the place where the personal stories are coming in a public space. 

Audience Member: I'm really interested in this idea that you were talking about earlier about the lacking archive. I wondered if you could speak generally to how you think of cinema as a specific kind of archive. Why is it cinema specifically that you go to, and does it have something to do with its relationship to the body?

CS: There is a film now that is exactly talking about the relationship between the lacking archive and the body. Oppenheimer is a lacking archive. The success come from the fact that it's a lacking archive. Even though there was a documentary called The Day After Trinity. What is interesting in Oppenheimer, for example, is the real Oppenheimer had an incredible body and a look. I went to see some real archives about Oppenheimer.

D: Thank you everyone. We’ll be in the lobby afterward.

Abby Sun is IDA’s Director of Artist Programs and Editor of Documentary. She is a 2022 Warhol Foundation Curatorial Research Fellow and formerly was Curator of the DocYard and Editor of MIT Open Documentary Lab’s Immerse.