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‘Zimbelism’ (review)

Written by Jean-François Gratton, Matt Zimbel
Produced and Directed by Matt Zimbel
and Jean-François Gratton

Featuring George Zimbel


George Zimbels work makes him one of the greatest documentarians of the human race that I have ever seen.

He has an eye for capturing that single moment in a conversation or in a shared experience that completely engulfs the viewer in the world he has captured on a single 35mm film frame.

Whether it is Presidents, movie stars or a couple of children playing in the streets of New York City, Zimbel has a magic touch and knows when to press the shutter to freeze the entire essence of a moment in time.

Zimbelism is the retrospective documentary journey of the life and work of George Zimbel.

C0-Written and directed by his son, Matt Zimbel and French documentary film maker Jean Francois Gratton is begins with a series of correspondence between Zimbel and The New York Times, whom he has had a very lucrative and cherished relationship with as a freelance photographer, concerning the sale of a photo print that Zimbel owns and that the New York Times is selling in a gallery.

The issue is that the New York Times, does not own the print and Zimbel would like it back. This exchange runs throughout the film via voiceovers reading the letters. Always an advocate for freelance artists, Zimbel, made his living solely as one, and his sense of justice is the only thing that would cause him to possibly breech the mutually beneficial relationship he had with the periodical.

I won’t tell you how it ends because that would ruin the fun.

Constructed in a way that is both informative and emotional, Zimbelism, perfectly represents the photographer who’s entire career was focused on the capturing of life and preserving the emotions of others for all time. Through interviews with the artist himself, now well into his 80’s, his wife, museum curators and others, the directors beautiful weave the story of George Zimbel’s life and work and how one could not exist without the other.

I was riveted, as a photographer myself, and as a lover of wonderful stories. I was fascinated hearing about who this man was and is outside of his photographs and it made complete sense that this master storyteller would have such an incredible journey to tell.

I can not recommend this film highly enough for any artist, especially all the photographers in my life that I know. This should be on every artists “go to list” for inspirational and informative documentaries along with Visions of Light and Frazetta: Painting with Fire. Even non artists will find the life and work of George Zimbel compelling as he spent and spends his life capturing what is compelling  about life itself.

Being human.


Zimbelism is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD.

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