Directed by Nancy Kelly
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.
THE FILMMAKER: Nancy Kelly wrote, produced and directed Smitten. Her previous film Downside UP, which aired on the PBS Independent Lens series and in over 125 countries. The Ford Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts supported an extensive Downside UP community engagement campaign. Kelly directed and produced the critically-acclaimed dramatic feature film Thousand Pieces of Gold, which stars Rosalind Chao and Chris Cooper. It was in over twenty-five film festivals, released theatrically in the United States, aired on the PBS American Playhouse series, Showtime, Sundance, Starz and Encore, and was broadcast widely internationally. She also made the award-winning documentary shorts: Cowgirls, Sweeping Ocean Views and A Cowhand’s Song.