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Michael Melamedoff: A Question of Representation

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Victor Victori shows off one of his multiplism paintings. Victor Victori shows off one of his multiplism paintings.
Victori: The Truth Just Can't Be One Thing is the latest feature from filmmaker Michael Melamedoff. It focuses on middle-age, Korean painter Victor Victori and his 25-year-old son Ed Victori who left the finance world to become an art consultant chiefly representing his father's vast works, which include tons of portraits, both of famous people and well-known figures, and Victor's innovative style of multiplism. The documentary pivots around the 2012 New York Art Expo, which Victor decided to attend, showcase and possibly sell his work. I spoke to Melamedoff by phone a week before his movie became available on video nationwide.

Melamedoff is the son of two doctors who met in medical school and moved from their home in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to New York City. Melamedoff was born in 1979. He attended New York University and graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor's degree in Film Production. He worked in a talent agency where he helped young, up-and-coming actors as well as models looking to transition. Notable clients included Channing Tatum and Rachel Nichols.

He did some theater directing at the same time. He left in 2007 to do work in non-profit fundraising. His producing partner and former assistant, Shawn Rubin, was Ed Victori's roommate at NYU's School of Business. Rubin brought Ed and Victor's story to Melamedoff, which he conceived could be a good documentary. The filmmaker said he identified with Ed because both have a father who's an immigrant.

Melamedoff's first feature was Weakness, which he liked making but its release came at a weird time in the rise of digital distribution. Weakness ultimately got lost in the shuffle, which certainly colored his experience and hipped Melamedoff to the problems of artists trying to get their work out into the world in the best way possible. It's similar to what Ed was doing. Ed was trying to get his father's work out into the world in the best way possible.

Melamedoff filmed Ed and the Victoris over the course of six days. He was limited to six days due to budget but also because the director had a singular vision, which was to focus on Ed's trip to the Expo and Ed's takeaway from it. Melamedoff wasn't even sure if this would be enough to make a feature or a short film. Yet, he wasn't bothered because the director believes small scale like this and certain limitations force creativity as a filmmaker.

He said he didn't want his movie to be a Q&A biopic. He wanted it to be more cinéma vérité. However, Melamedoff had to do interviews in order to get an understanding of the Victori family.

It was difficult because Melamedoff describes Victor Victori as a wily subject. In the film, Victor comes off as a honest and direct, no b.s. person, but the director observed that Victor does put on somewhat of an act. For example, the director noticed that Victor backed away from some things he stated in the interviews before the shoot began.

Ed Victori left finance to represent his father's art
Ed Victori was such that off-camera he had heated exchanges, but, on-camera he was very wanting to please. Ed's cool, calm, constantly business-like, professional persona had its somewhat polished veneer broken for one brief moment in the film by genuine frustration or anger, but, other than that, he remains rather steely. A scene of Ed unfurling or trying to unfurl a long, encrusted, Bicentennial painting probably reveals more about him than anything he says up to that point.

Melamedoff noted that on-camera Ed was particularly defensive and protective of his father. Dutiful, Ed also has more of an eye to his father's legacy. He's also of course concerned about the commerce side, as opposed to the intricacies of the art-making.

Obviously, Victor is more the opposite. Yet, there's a lot that we don't learn about this family. Melamedoff said there were personal things that Victor didn't wish to share. In a movie that's about representation and people trying to control how things come out into the world, Melamedoff was intrigued at the inherent conflicts and contradictions, or what might be considered the multiplism within this family.

Director Michael Melamedoff
Victori: The Truth Just Can't Be One Thing is now available on DVD via Amazon and VOD via iTunes and Vimeo, as of March 3, 2015.

For more information, you can go to the film's website VictoriMovie.com. You can also follow Michael Melamedoff on Twitter @MelamedoffFilms.

His next project is tentatively titled Speed Freak, a black comedy, big-in-scope, that he hopes to start shooting this fall.
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