BEST FILM (1998)
Not coincidentally, the best local film of the past 12 months tells an intimate history of Twin Cities art through the life of its director's own uncle, abstract painter Reginald Anderson. (And as luck would have it, this little-seen, hour-long film is playing May 15 at the Walker as part of a two-hour "Midwest Film and Video Showcase" program that begins at 7 p.m.) Keeping the camera close to her subject, filmmaker Terri Myers observes the 75-year-old Anderson enjoying his recent personal and artistic "awakening," which followed not only a stroke but several decades of low self-confidence and insufficient acclaim for his lyrical, translucent, abstract-expressionist work in pencil, watercolor, and pastel. The film also salutes Anderson's pioneering efforts to make his way in the Twin Cities (art scene) as an African American: growing up in the mythic, predominantly black Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul (which was decimated in the '50s to make room for I-94); taking night classes at the Walker in the '40s, and later at the UM and the Minneapolis School of Art; and spending more than 20 years as a security guard at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts before triumphantly returning to the canvas. Not just a portrait of the artist as an old man in his prime, Not a Nickel's Worth of Doubt is also a rare look back at the local culture that inspired him--positively and otherwise--to prove his worth.