Rene and his collected works, which have become the world’s largest and most notable collection of Northern California art, is the centerpiece of Smitten, the new film by award-winning filmmakers Nancy Kelly and Kenji Yamamoto. Kelly and Yamamoto invite audiences into the world of this unique and endearing man as he finds pure joy in discovering new artists and whose passion and expertise has become a driving force behind the California art scene.
Smitten follows di Rosa as he tours his collection, interacts with artists, and explores the Bay Area art scene. He provides the viewer with insight into his collecting tastes and his interest in supporting the artists of his time. Di Rosa has a terrific instinct for artists, helping to establish the careers of world known artists including, David Best, Mildred Howard, Paul Kos, Robert Arneson, William T. Wiley, Roy De Forrest, Richard Shaw.
In 2004, wanting the significance of the collection to be better known, Rene allowed fifty works to go on a national tour, the first time any of his collection had been shown outside of California. The filmmakers follow Rene as he and his art travel from Napa to the first stop on the national tour, the Kreeger Museum in Washington, DC. He transports some of the art to the new location with the care of taking children on a trip away from home. Rene dares to age actively as his search and love for his art collection seems to be what drives his passionate and energetic spirit – even well into his eighties. For Rene, his collection is his family, the Preserve is his home and each piece of art is a representation of his life, which the filmmakers so lovingly explore.
Smitten aired nationally on PBS in July 2007 as a PBS Prime Time Special (1675 plays), and has been in many film festivals, including DC Independent Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary; Aspen Shortsfest, where it shared the Audience Award; Nashville Film Festival where the jury awarded it Honorable Mention in the Documentary category; the International Festival of Films on Art (Montreal), Mill Valley Film Festival, Palm Springs International Short Film Festival and Los Angeles International Short Film Festival.
Nancy Kelly is a Sundance Fellow and veteran filmmaker who most recently wrote, directed and produced REBELS WITH A CAUSE. Produced in partnership with KRCB North Bay Public Television, REBELS screened in many film festivals, and then received theatrical distribution in seventeen states, including a remarkable eleven-week run at the Rafael Film Center. Prior to REBELS, Nancy wrote, directed and produced a documentary trilogy about the transformative power of art: TRUST: SECOND ACTS IN YOUNG LIVES, SMITTEN, and DOWNSIDE UP. She also directed and produced the acclaimed narrative feature film THOUSAND PIECES OF GOLD, starring Rosalind Chao and Chris Cooper. She participated in the Sundance Screenwriters Lab with THOUSAND PIECES OF GOLD and has been an artist in residence at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. She teaches screenwriting at City College of San Francisco.
Kenji Yamamoto is a Sundance fellow whose work has won many awards and screened worldwide. As part of Kelly+Yamamoto Productions, he produced and edited the environmental documentary REBELS WITH A CAUSE (APT), narrated by Frances McDormand, and a documentary trilogy about the transformative power of art: DOWNSIDE UP (PBS INDEPENDENT LENS, internationally, ITVS TRUE STORIES: LIFE IN THE USA); SMITTEN, (PBS Primetime Special); and TRUST: SECOND ACTS IN YOUNG LIVES (PBS AMERICA REFRAMED). He produced and edited THOUSAND PIECES OF GOLD (PBS American Playhouse series). THOUSAND PIECES OF GOLD starred Rosalind Chao and Chris Cooper. Independently of Kelly+Yamamoto Productions, Kenji edited Rebecca Parrish’s RADICAL GRACE, Hot Docs 2015 Top 5 Audience Favorite., Jennifer Taylor’s NEW MUSLIM COOL, (P.O.V.) winner of the Al Jazeera International Film Festival Freedom Award, and Mark Lipman and Helen Cohen’s STATES OF GRACE, winner of audience awards at Mill Valley, Seattle Lesbian and Gay, and Napa Valley Film Festivals. Kenji participated in the Sundance Documentary Edit Lab with NEW MUSLIM COOL and the Sundance Screenwirter’s Lab with THOUSAND PIECES OF GOLD.