A Look Back at “High Art” and its Legacy

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Radha Mitchell and Ally Sheedy appear in High Art by Lisa Cholodenko, an official selection of the From the Collection program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. (Courtesy of Sundance Institute.)

Twenty-two years later, High Art (1998)—director Lisa Cholodenko’s first feature film—resonates simultaneously as a timeless meditation on love, loss and art and as a trenchant drama with distinctive roots in 1990s aesthetics, culture and social issues.

During a recent retrospective screening and Q&A with its cast and crew as part of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival’s “From the Collection” programming, these intersecting appeals of the film—the timeless and the timely—rendered starkly why it remains a milestone for contemporary American independent film and for lesbian representation on the silver screen.

“It’s just a beautiful film outside of the…

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