IN REMEMBRANCE: 4-27-2014

MICHAEL GLAWOGGER, WHO FILMED LIVES OF DESPERATION

Michael Glawogger in 2011. He delved deep into the lives of poor people the world over. Credit Ian Gavan/Getty Images

The cause was malaria, Lotus Film, an Austrian company that produced Mr. Glawogger’s films, said.

Mr. Glawogger first captured wide attention in 1998 with “Megacities.” Subtitled “12 Stories of Survival,” it strung together scenes from mostly poor inhabitants of Mumbai, New York, Mexico and Moscow, including Times Square street hustlers and a Mexican striptease dancer preparing breakfast for her three young children.

As in most of Mr. Glawogger’s films, the narration in “Megacities” is sparse; he said he wanted viewers to come to their own conclusions. It turned out to be the first film in a trilogy, followed by “Workingman’s Death” (2005) and “Whore’s Glory” (2011).

“So often in commercial cinema, work, especially manual labor, and poverty are carefully repressed, banished off-screen,” the Harvard Film Archive said in notes for a 2012 showing of the three films. “A bracing tonic is offered by the breathtaking trilogy of bravura documentaries by Michael Glawogger that locates these issues emphatically center screen.”

A scene from the 2011 film “Whore’s Glory,” in which Mr. Glawogger documented prostitutes’ lives in three countries. Credit Kino Lorber

Mr. Glawogger returned to the theme in “Workingman’s Death,” which chronicled manual labor across the globe. In Ukraine, men scrape for chunks of coal to survive. In Pakistan, ex-farmers scrap old oil tankers with little more than their bare hands. In East Java, Indonesia, young men kill hundreds of goats and bulls every morning, then sell them, shouting, “Skin! Innards! Heads!”

One of these men faces the camera and says, “Everyone here does his job patiently, and if God in his infinite mercy should bestow us with success, so be it.”

In the 2011 film “Whore’s Glory,” Mr. Glawogger documented prostitutes’ lives in three countries. The movie begins in Bangkok, where prostitutes punch a time clock in a brothel called the Fishtank and line up on one side of a plate-glass window so customers can select them by number. At the City of Joy, a brothel housing 600 to 800 women in Faridpur, Bangladesh, the going rate is $2.40, but one customer is shown bargaining a prostitute down to 60 cents.

The third brothel is in the border town of Reynosa, Mexico. The women working there are middle-aged and on crack.

Reviewers marveled that Mr. Glawogger was given access to the brothels. In one scene, he shows an actual sex act.

Mr. Glawogger was accused of staging scenes. His answer, in a 2012 interview with Cineaste magazine, was to ask, “What exactly is that definition of reality?”

He was also accused of paying people to appear in documentaries, which he admitted doing. He told Cineaste that he had even posted bail and bought drugs for people who allowed him into their world. But the main way he gained entree, he said, was working hard at making friends by visiting people again and again, at first without a camera. He became godfather to one of the Mexican striptease dancer’s children.

Michael Glawogger was born in Graz, Austria, on Dec. 3, 1959. He attended the San Francisco Art Institute and the Vienna Film Academy in the 1980s.

He made fiction features as well as documentaries. His black comedy “Slumming” (2006) told of a nasty prank two friends play on a third: They find him passed out on a bench and drive him across the Austrian border into Slovakia. He wakes up not knowing where he is and unable to speak the language.

In his “Kill Daddy Good Night” (2009), the Jewish designer of a patricidal video game turns his back on his father, a politician, but winds up looking after a war criminal hiding in America.

Mr. Glawogger won numerous awards, including the London Film Festival’s Grierson Award for “Workingman’s Death”; the Austrian Film Award for best documentary for “Whore’s Glory”; and the award for best screenplay at the Ghent Film Festival for “Slumming.”

This year Mr. Glawogger directed a segment for “Cathedrals of Culture,” a 3-D movie for which six directors looked at a particular building that fascinated them. Wim Wenders, who helped organize the project, said the idea was to suggest what the buildings would say if they could talk. Mr. Glawogger filmed the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg.

Information on Mr. Glawogger’s survivors was unavailable.

It seems unlikely that another director will have any idea now to finish the project Mr. Glawogger was pursuing at his death.

“It’s a film about nothing,” he said. “I’ll travel once around the world in one year, and I’ll bring back a film.”

Correction: April 25, 2014
An earlier version of this obituary misstated Mr. Glawogger’s birth date. He was born on Dec. 3, 1959, not March 12.
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PHILLIP HAYES DEAN, THE PLAYWRIGHT OF DIVISIVE ‘PAUL ROBESON’

Phillip Hayes Dean’s dramatic works included “Paul Robeson.” Credit Craig Schwartz, via Associated Press

The cause was an aortic aneurysm, said Wren T. Brown, the theater’s founder and producer.

The public dispute over “Paul Robeson,” which starred James Earl Jones and opened on Broadway in January 1978, involved a welter of issues: artistic license, freedom of expression, accuracy in character portrayal and black pride. But it boiled down to the dissatisfaction of a group of prominent black intellectuals with Mr. Dean’s representation of Robeson, which they felt was insufficiently complex, insufficiently thorny and too easily digestible by a mass audience.

By then Mr. Dean had explored his own experience as a black man and the sociology of black communities in a number of well-received plays, including “The Sty of the Blind Pig,” set in Chicago as the dawn of the civil rights movement begins to unsettle the settled ways of the play’s characters; “Freeman,” about the diverse paths of two young black men in a small Michigan city much like Pontiac, where Mr. Dean came of age; and “Every Night When the Sun Goes Down,” which focuses on black-on-black exploitation and violence.

“Paul Robeson” appeared on Broadway in 1978 with James Earl Jones.

All three were performed Off Broadway, and “Sty,” starring Mary Alice, and “Freeman,” with Louis Gossett Jr., were produced on television. But none achieved the notoriety of “Paul Robeson,” a play with songs, in which the story of Robeson’s remarkable life as an athlete, scholar, actor, singer, civil rights activist and left-wing lightning rod unfolds in a monologue.

The play was initially intended as a television drama starring Mr. Jones, who brought Mr. Dean to the project. After it proved untenable for television, it evolved into a stage production and began touring the country in the fall of 1977 on a circuitous journey to New York that was fraught with artistic disagreements. Mr. Dean wrote several drafts of the script, and the original director, Charles Nelson Reilly, was replaced by Lloyd Richards.

Then just before opening night on Broadway, a letter signed by 56 writers, artists and politicians — among them Alvin Ailey, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Charles Rangel, Coretta Scott King, Julian Bond and Robeson’s son, Paul Jr., who was said to have initiated the protest — appeared as a paid advertisement in Variety.

“We, the undersigned members of the black community,” the letter declared in part, “having seen the production or read versions of it in progress, regretfully feel compelled to take the extraordinary step of alerting all concerned citizens to what we believe to be, however unintended, a pernicious perversion of the essence of Paul Robeson.”

The letter’s implication was that the play had softened Mr. Robeson’s positions as a political dissident, a black activist and an avowed socialist. Subsequent public statements by some of the signers underscored this. “What this country needs is a hero who is black and a socialist,” the actor Ossie Davis said. Baldwin said the play depicted Robeson as “a chocolate John Wayne.” Though no one called for a boycott, picketers demonstrated at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater. (Several weeks later, the play moved to a smaller house, the Booth.)

News reports, including one by the newscaster Carl Stokes, formerly the first black mayor of a major city, Cleveland, determined that some of the signers had not read or seen the play but had acted in deference to the Robeson family.

An outraged Mr. Dean said the protest was a McCarthy-like attempt to squelch freedom of speech and freedom of thought — he referred to the signers as the “House Un-Black Activities Committee” — precisely the kind of treatment Robeson had encountered in his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Thirty-three writers — including Arthur Miller, Edward Albee, Jules Feiffer, John Guare, Paddy Chayefsky, Lillian Hellman, Stephen Sondheim and at least one black playwright, Ed Bullins — rose to Mr. Dean’s defense, condemning the protest in a statement as a lamentable attempt “to influence critics and audiences against a play.”

The Broadway show closed after just 77 performances. But in a vindication of sorts, Mr. Jones appeared as Robeson in a public television production of the play, and “Paul Robeson” was briefly revived on Broadway twice — in 1988 and 1995, both times starring Avery Brooks — without a peep of dissent.

Nonetheless, Mr. Dean was set back by the protest, and though he continued writing, he never published or produced another play. “He was very, very deeply injured by those events, and it impeded the progress of what had been a significant theatrical voice,” Mr. Brown said in an interview on Tuesday.

Mr. Dean was born in Chicago on Jan. 17, 1931. His father, Robert, died when Phillip was very young, and his mother, Leatha, a nurse, married Dewey Matthews, an autoworker. After the family moved to Pontiac, Mich., Mr. Dean attended Wayne State University in Detroit, though he did not graduate.

He wrote from an early age, but his first theatrical training was as an actor, at the Will-O-Way Apprentice and Repertory Theater in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. He served in the Army and moved to New York in the early 1950s to audition for the Broadway drama “Take a Giant Step,” by Louis Peterson. (The role went to Mr. Gossett.) He had a small part in “The Wisteria Trees,” a play by Joshua Logan based on “The Cherry Orchard,” and he was the stage manager for an all-black production of “Waiting for Godot,” with Geoffrey Holder and Earle Hyman.

Mr. Dean, who lived in Los Angeles, is survived by his wife of 41 years, Patricia O’Toole; a brother, Howard; two daughters, Wendy Hutson and Karen Dean; and four grandchildren.

In 1988, at the time of the first Broadway revival of “Paul Robeson,” Mr. Robeson Jr. was asked by The New York Times why he no longer opposed the play. He said he thought that Mr. Brooks was better in the part than Mr. Jones had been and that the production was better, “though I repeat, I still feel the character as written is a counterfeit.”

On the same occasion, Mr. Dean said to The Times: “What I remember most was that I was writing the play about a man I admired and my mother was then dying and I was being attacked by well-known and highly respected black people for something that no one could quite pin down. They seemed to feel that my characterization of Robeson did not conform to their vision of the man. Well, obviously my vision was not the only one, and I never said it was or that it should be.” The current Ebony Repertory Theater production of “Paul Robeson,” which was directed by Mr. Dean and stars Keith David, concludes on Sunday.

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DORIS PILKINGTON GARIMARA, ABORIGINAL NOVELST

Doris Pilkington Garimara Credit Brent Bignell/European Pressphoto Agency

“Are we going to have a population of one million blacks in the Commonwealth, or are we going to merge them into our white community and eventually forget there ever were any Aborigines in Australia?” A. O. Neville, chief protector of Aborigines in Western Australia, asked in 1937.

The effort, little-known outside Australia, drew newfound attention when the movie “Rabbit-Proof Fence” came out in 2002, telling the story of a young girl who was taken from her family, escaped from a government re-education camp, and with two other girls walked for nine weeks through harsh desert, with only plants and small animals to eat, to reunite with her mother in their hometown.

The movie, which starred Kenneth Branagh as Mr. Neville, was based on the book “Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence” (1996), by Doris Pilkington Garimara, who died at 76 on April 10 in Perth, Australia. The cause was ovarian cancer, Australian press reports said.

From left, Tianna Sansbury, Laura Monaghan and Everlyn Sampi in the 2002 film “Rabbit-Proof Fence.” Credit Miramax Films

Ms. Pilkington Garimara based the book on the story of her own mother, Molly Kelly. But she, too, had suffered under the government campaign. As a young girl, she and her mother and sister were taken from their home in the early 1940s and sent to a camp. Her mother fled with Doris’s younger sister, but was forced to leave Doris behind.

Not until Christmas Eve 1962 did Doris see her mother again. An aunt had told her who her mother was. Ms. Pilkington Garimara found out where she lived and took her children to meet her. That was when Ms. Kelly shared her story of her first escape and trek home, following a fence that bisects the length of Australia from north to south to protect farmland from hordes of rabbits.

“Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence,” which helped awaken Australians to the plight of the Aborigines, was translated into 11 languages. The Australian Film Institute named the movie version the year’s best film, and it won prizes at a dozen film festivals around the world.

Ms. Pilkington Garimara wrote three other well-received books about her life, and used her celebrity to press for the Aboriginal cause. She was an original member of the government-sanctioned Reconciliation Committee to repair relations between the white and native peoples and a principal promoter of National Sorry Day, an annual event started in 1998 to commemorate the government’s mistreatment of Aborigines.

The focus of the day, held annually on May 26, is the “stolen generation”: the Aboriginal children ripped away from their families. In 2008, the Australian government formally apologized to that stolen generation.

Ms. Pilkington Garimara was born Nugi Garimara. Her birth was unregistered, but the Department of Native Affairs later issued her the birth date of July 1, 1937.

Four years later, the authorities moved her, her mother and sister to a new settlement. Her mother ran away, taking her baby sister and leaving Doris with relatives. At 12, Doris was put in a mission, and at 16, she took advantage of a program to become a nurse’s aide, rather than a servant in a white household. She later studied journalism.

As a young girl, she had taken the name Doris from the woman who employed her mother as a domestic.

She married a man named Pilkington. “My husband was a very, very hard man,” she said in an interview with Hecate, an Australian feminist journal. “He could be warm and loving when he wanted to be, but that side I didn’t see much.”

When she was 45, Ms. Pilkington Garimara returned to her mother’s village to research a possible book. For years, she came back for periods of six to eight weeks. She relearned her original language. Her mother showed her the tree under which she was born. Ms. Pilkington Garimara extensively interviewed her Aunt Daisy, who had accompanied her mother on her 1,000-mile journey.

Her first book, “Caprice: A Stockman’s Daughter” (1991), was a short novella inspired by her family and centered on the changing role of women over the course of the 20th century. Her other books were “Under the Wintamarra Tree” (2002) and “Home to Mother” (2006), a children’s version of “Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence.”

The Australian news media reported that Ms. Pilkington Garimara is survived by four children, 31 grandchildren and 80 great-grandchildren. Two daughters died before her.

SOURCE

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