Stitched, a documentary that follows three quilters (Caryl Bryer Fallert, Hollis Chatelain and Randall Cook) as they prepare to enter Houston's International Quilt Association show, when it was shown at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago on September 18. First the documentary was a lot funnier than I expected. I also enjoyed the music and loved that two songs by Cathy Miller, the "Singing Quilter" from Canada. Cathy's songs are extremely entertaining. and if you ever have the chance to see her in person, jump at it! Jena Moreno, the director (photograph), and her husband, Tom Gandy, the camera man. editor and graphic designer, were there. I also went out to dinner with them to a great PanAsian restaurant afterward. I found them to be delightful. I've thought a lot about the movie since seeing it. First, it seemed to me that for Jena it was the story and entertainment factor (how much people laughed) that seemed to be important to her and I think she succeeded. For me, it certainly did not tell the entire story of the quilt world. The focus was on the two major shows (Paducah, Kentucky, and Houston, Texas) with more of the focus being on the Houston show. Who was going to win? Unfortunately, none of them won so I was worried that the ending would be anticlimactic, but they were saved when Hollis won Viewer's Choice. They luckily (according to Tom) were able to capture Hollis' emotional response to hearing the announcement.
I was bothered that the traditional quiltmakers shown were elderly and outspoken about their dislike of art quilts. For an outsider, this might look like the opinion expressed speaks of all traditional quiltmakers which I know is not true. The flip side was also not shared. No art quilters were shown giving an opinion of traditional quilts.
I loved that we got a glimpse how the judging occurred at Houston. I was quite surprised to see that no one was wearing white gloves! I am really surprised that no buzz has occurred about this. When I lived in Houston, I did volunteer to help hang the show four times and each time I was required to wear them. If anyone was seen not wearing them, we were severely admonished.
I am also not sure how long film will be relevant and I am not sure if people will want to watch it more than once. I could be wrong since sales were good with quite a few people even purchasing two copies. For me, I purchased a copy to support them. We need films about quiltmaking. The DVD is only $19.95 which is reasonably priced. Make sure to watch it all the way to the end for the bonus outtakes. Some which were funnier than others.
By the way, Jena is not a quilter nor does she plan to make one. She does live in Houston and drives by the George R Brown Convention Center (where the Houston quilt show takes place) every day on her way to work at the Houston Chronicle. She writes about air lines. You cannot live in Houston and not be aware of the 50,000 people descending on the convention each year. She and her husband are going to be making a stretching and exercise video for quilters with Randall Cook before making a documentary on Mariachi bands. Jena's dad is in one and I'm sure it will be just as entertaining as Stitched.