‘Seinfeld’ star Julia Louis-Dreyfus and husband Brad Hall screening their documentary film at Marjorie Luke Theatre
Years after their film played at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, “Seinfeld” and “Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her husband, writer and director Brad Hal,l are once again treating Santa Barbara to a screening of their documentary “Generosity of Eye.” Based around interviews between Ms. Louis-Dreyfus and her late father William Louis-Dreyfus, the documentary depicts how the actress’ father toward the end of his life used one of his passions, art, in conjunction with another, justice, by donating his art collection to improve the lives of African American kids in Harlem, New York. The film will be screened at the Marjorie Luke Theatre on October 16, and will be followed by a discussion with Ms. Louis-Dreyfus and Mr. Hall.
In an interview with the News-Press, Mr. Hall said the initial idea for “Generosity of Eye” came when he and his wife found out that Mr. Louis-Dreyfus was gifting his large collection of art to the Harlem Children’s Zone, a nonprofit that helps kids in Harlem break the cycle of generational poverty through education and social service programs. At first, Mr. Hall approached the film merely as a document for his family, but soon realized that he was capturing a story between his wife and her father, and a story about someone using their interests for charity.
“The way he was able to marry these interests of art and justice was really and amazing thing, so that’s why we decided to make the movie,” Mr. Hall said.
Recalling his father-in-law’s interest in art, Mr. Hall told the News-Press that Mr. Louis-Dreyfus was particularly infatuated with “worked” paintings, paintings on which an observer can easily see the work the artist put into creating it.
Unconcerned about the estimated value of a piece of art, Mr. Louis-Dreyfus merely collected pieces he liked. His collection includes works by famous artists such as Bill Traylor, a former slave who didn’t start painting until he was an octogenarian. In the years since Mr. Louis-Dreyfus first acquired them, Mr. Traylor’s works have greatly increased in value and over the years will be sold as an endowment to the HCZ along with the rest of the collection.
“The fact that these have become expensive paintings will really help these kids in Harlem,” Mr. Hall said.
Still-living artists with works in the collection are interviewed in “Generosity of Eye,” which the director said led to his biggest surprise while making the film. Though he knew Mr. Louis-Dreyfus was acquainted with several artists, he didn’t realize how close their relationships were.
“I was really surprised at the intensity of the relationship between William and the painters,” he recalled.
Though Mr. Louis-Dreyfus didn’t care about the value of paintings when he bought them, he discovered that some of his paintings were in fact quite valuable when he invited some art experts to evaluate the pieces he had collected at a warehouse in New York State. As Mr. Hall recalls, within a week of this discovery his father-in-law decided to use them for the HCZ’s benefit. Mr. Louis-Dreyfus was passionate about justice, having attended law school at Duke University around the time the civil rights movement was reaching a fever pitch in the southern United States, and throughout his life set up several scholarships for African Americans. Describing his wife’s father as a “quiet philanthropist” for most of his life, Mr. Hall guessed that Mr. Louis-Dreyfus was looking to make a “big gesture” before passing away, one that would underscore his belief that the United States owes its African American community a great debt.
Tickets for Mr. Hall and Ms. Louis-Dreyfus’ screening of “Generosity of Eye” cost $25 for general admission and can be purchased at the Marjorie Luke Theatre website www.luketheatre.org. VIP tickets cost $75 and include prime seating and a private reception after the screening. The screening will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Marjorie Luke Theatre, located at 721 E Cota St.