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The Independent Critic

Paul Stankard
Daniel R. Collins
70 Mins.
Collective Eye Films

 Movie Review: Paul J. Stankard: Flower and Flame 
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If there is one absolute requirement for a film such as Paul J. Stankard: Flower & Flame, it's that it be beautiful. This may sound obvious, I suppose, but it's most certainly not and it's a remarkable challenge for those filmmakers who exist within the realm of independent film. 

How do you make a film that truly represents the beauty you hope to portray onscreen?

This is how. 

Directed by Daniel R. Collins, Paul J. Stankard: Flower & Flame invites us into the extraordinary universe of world-renowned artist in glass Paul J. Stankard. Stankard takes memories from his rural childhood and brings them to life in molten glass. His work is, quite simply, exceptional and Flower & Flame captures the exquisite beauty of the man and his remarkable artistry. 

Collins focuses his lens on Stankard himself for the vast majority of Flower & Flame's 70-minute running time. We're immersed in his craft and in the absolute precision it requires moment after moment after moment. If you've ever gone on a nature walk and found yourself in awe of your surroundings, this is much how it feels to watch Flower & Flame as it captures Stankard as he speaks, as he creates, and as he reminds us of the beauty that surrounds us. 

Stankard maintains an unassuming presence, a quiet wistfulness as gentle and meditative as the worlds he creates. Stankard struggled through school with undiagnosed dyslexia, a young boy desperate to please his parents and finding himself amidst the New England woods and the dew on the Lady Slipper Orchard, the honeybees doing their sacred dance among the daisies, and summer marshes with low-bush blueberries. 

We learn that the beauty always just sort of awed Stankard. It's as if he found in nature a sacred and safe space, a purpose that would become both profession and meaning. Considered a living master of the flame-worked glass medium, Stankard's work is represented in more than 70 museums worldwide. Once you see if, you'll understand why. Truthfully, I would be happy watching Flower & Flame in silence just to see Stankard's work. His is a craft of vision, of artistry, of faith, of memory, and of preservation. 

Stankard is an artist in glass, however, he is also an artist of wonder and Collins captures this wonder time and time again with a lens that is exacting, pristine, and which allows us to linger on the beauty that Stankard creates. 

Collins, an award-winning filmmaker whose work often enters the artistic realm, simply yet masterfully allows the lens to feel as if it's lingering in the background allowing the art to exist in the spotlight. At times, it feels as if we're sitting right next to Stankard as his works come to life. Sometimes, the filmmaking is obvious and in Flower & Flame one practically forgets it's taking place. We're truly immersed in Stankard's natural world. 

Currently on the film festival circuit, the vision for Paul J. Stankard: Flower & Flame is a public broadcast/streaming release in 2024. It's a film you will most definitely want to see and if you get the chance to capture it on a bigger screen during it's festival run I suggest you do so. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic