“Director Richard Kane’s bittersweet and deeply moving film,”
Maine Sunday Telegram.
In the summer of 2012, painter Jon Imber was diagnosed with a fatal degenerative disease, ALS. Imber’s Left Hand tells the story of this artist’s courageous and sometimes darkly humorous response to such a sentence. The film traces his adaptations, from switching from painting with his right hand to his left, and then to both hands as the condition progresses. Adversity only makes him more determined to paint, and paint he does: more than 100 portraits in a four-month span.
In the film we first encounter Imber in his Somerville, MA studio. He and his partner, painter Jill Hoy, analyze a self-portrait and talk about the anxiety to come. The painting becomes an unsettling metaphor of Jon’s psychological journey living into his dying through his art.
In one scene, while reviewing family photos, he comes across a picture of himself at nine at a Passover Seder. Hoy says it’s his Judaism that’s at the root of who he is. “How so?” Imber asks, to which Hoy replies, “How you present yourself, your sense of responsibility, your constant search for truth and authenticity.”
The way in which Imber carries on that search against the greatest of odds is at the heart of this portrait. Especially moving is the way in which members of the Stonington, Maine community rally to support Imber—dropping by to give him a back rub or bring a dish to eat—even as he invites them to have their portraits painted.
In the end, Imber’s Left Hand is a testament to the life-giving force that is art and the ability of two people and their community to face an uncertain future with passion and resolve.
“A masterpiece of intimacy in the face of tragedy, “Imber’s Left Hand” is an extraordinary accomplishment in film. It is the eulogizing of the creative force and artistic life of one of America’s leading painters – in his own vibrant voice,” Daniel Kany, Maine Sunday Telegram.