See Know Evil is a tribute to the life and legendary art of Davide Sorrenti.
Directed by Charlie Curran, the documentary unfolds almost as a portfolio of Davide’s personal and published photography, featuring interviews from his family, friends and professional colleagues he made working his way into the fashion photography industry. We see his come up as an ambitious, grungy kid living in New York City during the 90s to his startling success as a 19-year-old working with New York’s finest. It’s impossible not to smile listening to stories recanted by his best friends who made up the SKE crew – the boys would come to claim the city with their See Know Evil graffiti tag.
Throughout the film we are we sit with heavy hearts with the knowledge of Davide’s blood disease, Cooley’s Anemia, and the consequences it had on his day-to-day life. Part of what makes Davide’s story as an artist so fascinating is, of course, that he was capable of achieving so much in the twenty years he lived, never sacrificing a moment despite his condition.
At times, the film lost its momentum, falling into the repetitive nature of the documentary structure, flip-flopping quickly between interview and artwork. Considering the life of Davide Sorrenti was so unique, the film could have benefitted with a break from tradition. It felt appropriate, however, the importance of more than a dozen interviews for this particular film – for ninety minutes in a theatre, we certainly understood just how many lives Davide touched in his short time here.
As someone unfamiliar with the details of Davide’s personal life, the film felt like a love story to an old friend. The biggest takeaway was the understanding that he lived every day knowing it very well could be his last. That he lived for the very raw, imperfect moments captured in his photography. And that he impacted those around him by his genuine, candid and charmingly weird nature.
Just as he says in an interview by Avedon, his favorite style of photography is a “documentary,” which makes See Know Evil a heartfelt summation of Davide Sorrenti’s life and work.
See Know Evil is currently part of New York’s documentary festival, DOC NYC.