In Susan Sontag’s last published book, Regarding the Pain of Others, she wrote about how humans remember: “To remember is, more and more, not to recall a story, but to be able to call up a picture.” A new picture, in this case a moving picture, will premiere on HBO on Dec. 8, remembering the writer, activist and critic herself. Regarding Susan Sontag, titled in homage to her final work, will weave together interviews, footage and readings from Sontag’s prolific body of work.
Directed by Nancy Kates and honored with a Special Jury Mention at the Tribeca Film Festival, Regarding Susan Sontag explores the life of a woman often considered one of this country’s greatest public intellectuals, and — as a voice in the trailer asserts — “the most intelligent woman in America.” Sontag wrote because she saw it as “a way of paying attention to the world.” She visited war-torn regions because, in her words, “I think it’s my duty to be in as much contact with reality as I can be, and war is a tremendous reality in our world.”
Many have missed Sontag’s dissenting voice since her death in 2004. The frequency with which she visited topics like pain, human rights, war and violence suggest she’d have much to contribute to the conversations that whirl around us today and every day. Absent that, at least we have a documentary.