John Waters Retrospective Unveils Eclectic Cinematic World at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

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John Waters, the legendary filmmaker known as the “Pope of Trash,” will be honored with a comprehensive exhibition at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Opening on September 27, 2023, and running until August 4, 2024, the exhibition will delve into Waters’ profound impact on cinema and showcase his six-decade career.

Curated by Jenny He and Dara Jaffe in collaboration with Waters himself, the exhibition will take visitors on a journey through the filmmaker’s entire body of work. From his early independent films to his rebellious Hollywood productions, the exhibition will explore Waters’ unique creative process and his penchant for pushing boundaries. Over 400 artifacts, many of which have never been seen by the public before, have been selected for display.

Upon entering the exhibition, visitors will be greeted by an immersive introductory gallery that references various aspects of Waters’ personal history and cinematic journey. This gateway leads to a showcase of his formative years and early works, including his first film, “Hag in a Black Leather Jacket” (1964), and “Roman Candles” (1967). These films, along with other early pieces like “Eat Your Makeup” (1968) and “Mondo Trasho” (1969), have been meticulously restored for the exhibition.

The exhibition will also feature in-depth explorations of Waters’ most iconic feature films, such as “Pink Flamingos” (1972), “Hairspray” (1988), and “Serial Mom” (1994). Handwritten scripts, set decorations, costumes, props, and production designs will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the filmmaker’s creative process. Additionally, the exhibition will highlight the recurring themes of music and dance in Waters’ films through a captivating immersive gallery.

The exhibition will conclude with a dedicated gallery celebrating Waters’ cult status, featuring fan art and other tributes to his illustrious career. Waters’ subversive audacity and his ability to treat his characters with love and humanity have solidified his position as one of the most revered independent auteurs in American movie history.

Jacqueline Stewart, Director and President of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, expressed her gratitude to Waters for entrusting the museum with telling the story of his vast film career. She highlighted Waters’ years of remembrances in curating the exhibition, which involved scouring attics and basements for the works on display.

Waters’ films, known for their shock value and entertainment value, have challenged societal norms and achieved a level of respectability despite being labeled as “trash” films. The exhibition at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures aims to showcase the profound impact and lasting legacy of John Waters’ unique and influential career in cinema.

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