Having premiered at Sundance this week (and airing on HBO in June), Perri Peltz and Geeta Gandbhir's Remembering The Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr. is a 40-minute short that looks at a painter who only recently received the attention that he deserved while alive.
With a heavy contribution by his son, the film chronicles Robert De Niro, Sr. from his humble beginnings in 1950s New York alongside the likes of painters such as Jackson Pollack. But not an abstract painter like his peers, De Niro, Sr. was on the outside looking in while they were gaining attention (and wealth) as the method grew in popularity.
De Niro, Jr. is our guide to the man behind the canvas, reading excerpts from his father's journal to reveal someone who struggled with depression, homosexual feelings and contempt for anyone who was doing better than him.
But De Niro, Sr. and his son had a special bond. One that cemented when De Niro, Jr. started to become a renowned actor and he could see the pride that his father had in him. De Niro, Jr. would return that admiration towards his father's death as he began trying to get his work better recognized. That has led to De Niro, Sr. being more recognized in death than he did in life.
TFI has continued to support the legacy of De Niro, Sr. with the the Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize which is awarded yearly to outstanding mid-career American painters (see last year's winner).
Perhaps one of the most reveling parts of the short is De Niro, Jr.'s candid thoughts about his father which reveals a side of him we rarely see.
"He was the real thing, my father," said De Niro, Jr. in the movie. "I see his work, I see how dedicated he was, to me he was a great artist. But you can never impose that on people, they have to make their own decisions. The thought of what he's done, all his work, I can't not but make sure that it's held up and remembered. So I just want to see him get his due, that's my responsibility."
It's a touching tribute from son to father.