Christopher Guest is one of the most comically gifted and incisive American filmmakers working today. A true polymath—he acts, writes, directs, and composes—Guest has forged a distinctive style of fake documentary filmmaking that relies entirely on unscripted improvisations. Collaborating with an extraordinarily talented ensemble of comedians and musicians that includes Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, and Harry Shearer (many of them veterans of SCTV and Second City), Guest creates pitch-perfect portraits of some of America’s daffier subcultures, from Hollywood’s smarmy movie industry in The Big Picture (1987) and small-town amateur theatrics in Waiting for Guffman (1996) to high-stakes dog shows in Best in Show (2000) and folk-music reunions in A Mighty Wind (2003). These much-revered, oft-quoted films are presented in a mid-career retrospective that also features Rob Reiner’s This Is Spinal Tap (1984) and The Princess Bride (1987), Saturday Night Live sketches and films, rare television pilots, commercials, outtakes, and trailers. Guest introduces the opening night screening of Best in Show, and, as part of MoMA’s Great Collaborations series, performs live on April 9 with McKean and Shearer, followed by an onstage discussion with longtime collaborators Bob Balaban and Parker Posey.
Organized by Joshua Siegel, Assistant Curator, Department of Film and Media.