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Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me
by Karen Pecota

At eighty-seven years young the legendary Broadway entertainer Elaine Stritch remains in the spotlight. This time, a documentary film honoring her career is the light that shines bright on the silver screen opposed to the stage floor. Her credits are many, as are her Tony and Emmy Awards received for performances both on and off the stage. Large portions of archival film footage acknowledge her accomplishments in the latest film report Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me directed by Chiemi Karasawa.

Karasawa's hairdresser (whom Stritch also uses) mentioned that she had a client whose life story would be a fascinating film subject. After a little research Karasawa agreed that Stritch has a story to tell.

Filmmaker Karasawa founded Isotope Films in 2005 to develop and produce original content based on non-fiction material. Some of her award-winning work as a producer includes Billy the Kid, The Betrayal, Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak. Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me is the directorial debut for producer Chiemi Karasawa, illuminating Stritchs' multi-faceted career. Making Karasawa's documentary a compelling piece of entertainment history.

Stritch made her first film appearance in 1956 in Three Violent People. Performance in film is not foreign to the female legend but in 57 years a lot has changed in the industry. Remarkably, Stritch has changed right along with it giving her the versatility to eloquently handle diverse roles in feature films and television guest appearances in Law & Order and 30 Rock--Emmy winning performances.

Though Stritch is an open person and willing to have the cameras shoot her; she was not quite sure about being filmed outside of her comfort zone with entertaining and performance. She wasn't used to showing the "non-performance" Stritch. The idea made her nervous. The documentary shows Stritch going about her daily activities in her brassy and energetic fashion but just underneath that thick-skin is a vulnerability that is relatable. Karasawa notes that while Stritch is critical of the film her natural appeal is endearing. She adds, "I don't think she's aware of how entertaining she is when she's not performing." 

Karasawa says, "When you see someone that that's liberated, it inspires that same thing in you. I think that is why she has so many fans, because they wish that she was the person on their shoulder giving them courage and the strength to do and say what they feel."