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Forbidden Photographs,
the Life and Work of Charles Gatewood

90 minutes   |  52 minutes - TV  |  2003

A theatrical fine art cultural anthropology film directed by Bill Macdonald. Forbidden Photographs takes viewers on an eye-opening journey through American subcultures and their fascinating rites and rituals. The film focuses on award winning San Francisco photographer and anthropologist Charles Gatewood, who has spent over 40 years researching, documenting, and authoring books about the American underground. Forbidden Photographs puts the extreme subject matter in perspective as the screen explodes with Gatewood’s pioneering work.

REVIEW: Gatewood's world is freakish, earthy, blunt, erotic--most of all, terribly and beautifully alive. -- A.D. Coleman, in The New York Times: FORBIDDEN PHOTOGRAPHS, a new film by Bill Macdonald, takes viewers on an eye-opening journey through American sub-cultures and their fascinating rites and rituals. The film focuses on award-winning San Francisco photographer and anthropologist Charles Gatewood, who has spent the past forty years observing, documenting, and authoring books and programs about the American underground.

In FORBIDDEN PHOTOGRAPHS the camera follows Gatewood from wild Manhattan S&M parties to San Francisco’s infamous Folsom Street Fair, to the incendiary artistry of Nevada’s Burning Man Celebration, and into the secret world of outlaw bikers, fetishists, pagans, vampires, BDSM practitioners and enthusiasts of radical body modification. Narrated by behavioral psychologist Daniel Lapin, Ph.D., by Gatewood, and by the subjects themselves, FORBIDDEN PHOTOGRAPHS puts the extreme subject matter in historical perspective, revealing how extreme piercing, unusual fetish practices, and blatant exhibitionism have entered and transformed mainstream culture.

Gatewood’s pioneering work explodes on the screen. Images from his book SIDETRIPPING (with William Burroughs), PRIMITIVES, BADLANDS, and TRUE BLOOD clearly illustrate why Gatewood isconsidered the world’s premiere chronicler of bizarre human subjects and their extreme behavior. Running time is 90 minutes. Music by noted composer Peter Stone of CyberDen. Bill Macdonald is a founding producer of the Discovery Channel’s Beyond Bizarre TV series, and operates Bill Macdonald Productions, a stock footage archive.

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