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Director Ricki Stern and Joan Rivers at The SF International Film Festival | Photo: Steve Rhodes


- Like you, I'd heard plenty of "good things" about this movie, so I'm pleased to say it supports the hype. At 84 minutes, the movie is concise and very fat-free. Joan never gets the "Mother Theresa" treatment from the filmmakers, nor does the movie spend too much time featuring talking heads.

- Joan's apartment is accurately described as a "mini-Versailles."

- Here's how director/writer Ricki Stern described the movie: "It's about an aging woman who is a consummate performer, who works harder than anybody. It's a portrait of a performer who lives her life for the audience and for what she gets out of it, and the journey that she takes. The narrative part of it whether she won Celebrity Apprentice or did her play obviously changed in the verite shooting. But the theme and the story, we knew right away going into it what it was going to be."

- Following Saturday night's screening at IFC Center, co-directors Stern and Annie Sundberg held a Q&A with the sold-out audience.

What was Joan's reaction to the movie when you first screened it for her?
Ricki Stern:
I showed her the DVD at her apartment. It was Joan and me. She has this little TV, which I thought was funny because she doesn't have a bigscreen, 2010-style. ... She liked it in the beginning, she had very few minor notes. And then pages and pages of emails started coming. And they were things that we couldn't even address, like, "Joan thinks it's very negative. Joan thinks it's boring. Note #14 - Joan is always in the makeup chair. Note #16 - More dogs -- everyone likes dogs." ... I think in retrospect, of course, it was because she's a perfectionist and so self-critical, it makse sense. At some point we said: "It's fine. It's going to be okay," and she finally lived with it.

Cinematographer Charles Miller and producer Seth Keal at the Sundance screeningIs there a shy side to Joan as Melissa aludes to (in the film)?
Ricki Stern: We had such a rapport with her she could be her funny, normal self. ... Her normal, funny kind of quirky, witty self is when she's in the taxis or when she's arriving someplace. She has this intense energy that is "99.9% on." But she's constantly revved up and happy to see you and wanting to talk to you. But she's shy when she gets into an industry setting.

Has she worked the movie into her routine yet?
Ricki Stern: I don't think so. I think she's very fearful in some ways of the movie. ... I think it's quite painful for her to sit through. She watched it at Sundance and Tribeca. So she's watched it a couple of times with an audience, but it's very hard for her. I think it's almost too close to her in some weird way -- even though she worked Edgar's suicide into her bits the week after. I think because [the movie] is about her, she's still processing it. I don't know. It's a good question. We'll ask her about it.

--"Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work" is currently playing at IFC Center in New York.

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Reader Comments (2)

Dude if the la times says it’s a mix of moments with Joan Rivers; then I’m in. lol from what I’ve heard I bet Joan Rivers-A Piece of Work is honest and funny. Mos def gonna see it in san diego Friday. Dude if the la times says it’s a mix of moments with Joan Rivers; then I’m in. lol from what I’ve heard I bet Joan Rivers-A Piece of Work is honest and funny. Mos def gonna see it in san diego Friday.

June 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercallonme

I was a lil hesitant to watch Joan Rivers doc , but after seeing it I’m convinced it’s the most honest and funny movie I’ve seen in a long time. Dude if u haven’t def go see it!!

June 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermeghan_fawks

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