In 1961, historian Daniel Boorstin released a culturally enlightening book which would turn out to be a blistering portrait of postmodernism in our time. He coined the terms "pseudo-event" and "famous for being famous." Most incisive of all his observations was his definition of the image as a replica of reality: it takes a variety of forms including a movie, a news report, an advertisement, a poster of a work of art, or a press conference.
Annie Berman is producer, director, narrator, and co-editor of The Faithful: The King, The Pope, The Princess, a 90-minute documentary which probes the celebrityhood of three global icons — Elvis Presley, Pope John Paul II, and Diana, Princess of Wales. This sensitive filmmaker was named one of Independent Magazine's "10 Filmmakers to Watch" for her creative videos, performances, and installations shown internationally in galleries, festivals, universities, and conferences.
From the opening footage showing us a popsicle adorned with a picture of Pope John Paul II, an Elvis Presley shower curtain, and a Princess Diana teacup, we know we are in the hands a gifted scout able to lead us in pilgrimages to Vatican City, Graceland, and Kensington Palace where fans of these celebrities share their love, loyalty, and mystical experiences with us.
Many of these faith followers are collectors of memorabilia, and it comes as quite a shock to learn that these knick-knacks have to all be officially licensed and bring in substantial income to the Vatican, the Elvis Presley estate, and Diana's estate. The filmmaker even worries that just by showing them in her film, she may have the estate police on her trail.
Although homes full of images of their idols, descriptions of how Elvis appears on a patio door, and gatherings of up to 50,000 people on the anniversary of the King's death may seem excessive, Berman never judges those she meets. In fact, she is surprised to find herself connecting with these global icons and their devotees. After watching this film, you will understand how she could describe her endeavor in spiritual terms:
"What began as a voyeuristic encounter slowly enveloped me, the person behind the camera. I found myself returning year after year to the annual rituals, making my own pilgrimages, obsessively collecting more and more footage. A meditation on art, religion and commerce becomes a personal transformation as the once cynical woman-with-a-camera finds a deeper sense of purpose. I began to see myself in the faithful understanding that my pursuit was part of a bigger more universal quest."