a woman like that: a portrait of artemisia gentileschi

artemisia-gentileschi-1-sizeda woman like that is a dual focus documentary primarily focusing on the life and work of 17th century Italian female artist Artemisia Gentileschi.

The secondary focus is on the film’s maker, Ellen Weissbrod who introduces her film by telling of her 30-year career making other people’s ideas, and of her discovery of Artemisia from the reading of a book.

Artemisia’s life-story inspired Weissbrod to make her own ideas, starting with the production of this documentary. Weissbrod wanted to break through her own internal barriers just as Artemisia broke through the deeply-entrenched gender barriers of 17th century Italy.


We follow Weissbrod’s personal odyssey as she explores Artemisia’s life and work starting first in the United States, but spending most of the film’s time in Italy. Taking her cameras to homes, museums, offices, studios, streets, and sidewalks, Weissbrod interviews fans, collectors, and scholars. We receive a rough outline of Artemisia’s life, see much of her available work, and wonder about the possibility of many lost pieces. Weissbrod employs Artemisia’s fans in creating and performing tableaus based on a few of Artemisia’s works. Artemisia’s story is embellished with generous amounts of split-screen images and on-screen text.

In her introduction Weissbrod relates that she wrote a narrative script about Artemisia, but that it was not picked up.

a woman like that makes it clear why Weissbrod was so motivated to pursue a narrative. The triumphs of Artemisia Gentileschi’s life are as high as its tragedies are deep. I hope Weissbrod continues her pursuit of a narrative; for her documentary created another one of my soon-to-be-patented ‘If I Was A Mogul’ moments. In this instance, I’d eagerly greenlight a narrative with a budget worthy of a Merchant/Ivory production.


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