To draw the impossible: that is what Maryland artist Billy Pappas set out to do in the early '90s. His self-imposed Sisyphean task was to capture what is normally unseen in portraiture-each pore, each individual strand of hair. He used a 20x magnifying glass while standing in front of his easel, seven hours a day for the next eight and a half years, painstakingly doing just that. He became something of a hermit, all the while convinced that he was pushing art to new heights. After four years, he created a sling system to hold his aching arms in place while drawing. After five years, his family and friends feared for his sanity. His obsessive pursuit of excellence was matched only by his obsessive pursuit of an audience with fabulously successful modern artist David Hockney once his opus was complete. Director Julie Checkoway fleshes out an amazing story of both the determination of one inspired individual and the unforgiving machinery of the art world. The refreshingly frank interviews with unguarded and lovable Billy are rounded out by old home videos and kitschy vintage footage. Checkoway makes the most of Billy's bizarre entourage of supporters who travel with him as he makes his way toward the nailbiting conclusion of his 10-year journey, most notably his anxiety-ridden but unwaveringly adoring mother. Stakes are high-and audiences will find themselves desperately hoping that Billy can pull one off for the little guys.
Co-hosted with Independent Feature Project (IFP) .