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Out of Sight

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"I don't know if America is ready for a blind girl who isn't a goody-two-shoes," warns Diane Starin in an early scene from this hour-and-a-half docu-bio. Out of Sight (1993) belongs to the new wave of PBS-supported documentaries that matter-of-factly chronicle the everyday life of the handicapped, warts and all. Starin, who lost her eyesight to cancer as an infant, is a thirtysomething horsewoman living in northern California. Fiercely independent and outspoken, she candidly confides to a girlfriend (and the camera) her sexual yearnings, financial worries, and domestic squabbles. She's seen in bed with her much older lover, Herb, arguing about his alcoholism and their infidelities. Director David Sutherland conjures up key episodes from their shared past via reenactments shot in sepia-toned stock. At times this strategy, appropriated from tabloid journalism, becomes stagy and distracting, but in one instance where it does work (a lovers' quarrel over Diane's one-night stand) the result is uncommon poignancy: Diane and Herb must've reenacted the incident just as their relationship was disintegrating. There are also conventional interviews and home-movie footage. As the film ends, Starin has fallen in love with someone new, a man ten years her junior. It's a tribute to Sutherland's story telling that one wants to know how it's working out. Both Starin and Sutherland will be on hand for discussion after each screening. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, July 22, 6:00, Saturday, July 23, 8:00, and Sunday, July 24, 4:00, 443-3737.

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