- The Washington Times - Monday, February 15, 2016

Lilias Trotter isn’t as well known as Mary Cassat or Frida Kahlo, which filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson aims to change with her new film, “Many Beautiful Things: The Life and Vision of Lilias Trotter,” a dramatization screening this month around the country before becoming available on demand on International Women’s Day, March 8.

The new film stars Michelle Dockery (“Downton Abbey”) as the troubled artist as well as John Rhys-Davies (“Lord of the Rings”). It screened at the District’s National Gallery of Art on Feb. 6 as part of its nationwide debut.

“The film brings to light a story of a historic woman artist whose name was nearly lost to history,” Ms. Hinson told The Washington Times. “I was inspired by Lilias’ countercultural view of success: She did not measure her life by external outcomes but rather by who she was becoming on the inside through her faithfulness to a calling she believed was from God.”

Based in the District, Ms. Hinson previously produced “As We Forgive” about the Rwandan genocide. For the new film, Ms. Hinson enlisted producer Hisao Kurosawa, son of legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, to help bring the film to fruition. Sleeping at Last provided original music.

“The biggest challenge in producing the film was that there was very little in the way of a visual record of Lilias’ life outside of her paintings,” Ms. Hinson said of her mysterious subject. “Furthermore, she died in 1928, so no one alive today even had a first person account of her.”

The film weaves together Miss Dockery’s portrayal of the artist with magical realism, a device Ms. Hinson calls “visually engaging” and the creation of “abstract memories” from the artist’s life.

“Lilias found beauty in the most mundane and otherwise unlikely places,” the director said. “She perceived spiritual insights by closely studying ordinary people and plants, and was endlessly inspired to create and draw attention to the beauty that she found.

“I hope I, as a filmmaker, can inherit some of this insight and put it to use in my own work.”

To locate screenings around the country, visit ManyBeautifulThings.com.

• Eric Althoff can be reached at twt@washingtontimes.com.

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