In 2014, noted photographer Nan Goldin was prescribed Oxycontin after surgery, and the ensuing addiction nearly killed her. Now fully recovered, Goldin leads protests at major museums to get them to stop accepting Sackler/Purdue Pharma money, and stop displaying their name. Director Poitras captures this vital initiative, while weaving in elements of Goldin’s difficult early life that informed her art and the causes she embraced.
Disturbing, fascinating doc balances Goldin’s gutsy recent activism with the artist’s troubled beginnings, including toxic parents and the suicide death of her beloved elder sister. Later, Goldin would lose countless friends to the AIDS epidemic, and the federal government’s anemic response to the crisis aroused her desire to speak out and act up. All the while, she was creating moody, evocative photography capturing the pain and tumult of her times. Even given the dark subject matter, “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” is still a hopeful, even inspiring film, as we watch Goldin channel her outrage into positive action.