Every once in a while a documentary comes along that is so splendid and breathtaking that it is hard to even explain the impact it has on one. I felt that way when I watched Finding Vivian Maier for the first time and the many times I came back to it. Now comes Susan Anderson’s brilliant film PACKED IN A TRUNK: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson.
PACKED IN A TRUNK uncovers the story of lesbian artist Edith Lake Wilkinson, great aunt of award winning screenwriter, playwright and director Susan Anderson. Susan discovers a treasure trove of paintings in trunks in the attic. All were done by her aunt who met and fell in love with Fanny while at Columbia. Then suddenly in 1924, Edith is committed to an asylum and was basically never heard from again. Why? The best guess is tat she was suspected of being a lesbian. Fanny disappeared from her life and Edith spends the last decades of her life locked away to die at age 57.
Anderson takes us on a journey to discover the mysteries of Edith’s life and to return her art to Provincetown. And what a journey it is.
There are multiple reasons to watch this film. In fact, every student of film who yearns to create a smart movie can utilize PACKED IN A TRUNK as master’s level guide. If the story itself weren’t enough to capture my soul, the way in which it is told is pure genius. How often does one sit in a documentary and look at it like a good mystery novel. I waited anxiously for every turn of the page.
Though the film doesn’t answer every question about Edith’s life it does shed light on the world Edith and Fanny lived in nearly 100 years ago. Her art has survived and much of it is in Provincetown. And thanks to Anderson we know, as best we can, the artist and lost soul who was her great aunt. Now I’ll watch it again. Seriously, it’s that good.
PACKED IN A TRUNK: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson debuts April 26, 2016 across all digital platforms including iTunes, Vimeo On Demand, and WolfeOnDemand.com, and is also available that date on DVD via Wolfe Video and many major retailers.