On April 4, HBO hosted a special screening of its new documentary “Nothing Left Unsaid” at the Time Warner Center. Directed by Academy Award and Emmy Award nominee Liz Garbus, the film features Gloria Vanderbilt and her youngest son, Anderson Cooper, in a series of candid conversations. Gloria Vanderbilt was born into one of the wealthiest and best-known families in American history. Garbus intertwines archival footage, letters, previously unseen home videos, photos and paintings into an intimate portrait of one of America’s most fascinating families. The special will air on April 9 at 9 p.m. on HBO.
Liz Garbus has done documentaries on Nina Simone and Bobby Fischer. When asked how this documentary differs from them, she told byteclay.com on the red carpet, “It is different. When I worked on these films with Nina Simone and Bobby Fischer, neither of them were still with us. And so today, happily, Gloria is still with us. That’s a different experience. And of course Anderson is in the news business. Very different from documentary filmmaking, but still there is a crossover. So there was a learning curve for me to try and figure out ‘how do I carve out my space as a filmmaker while still respecting everything that they bring to the table.’ And I have to say, they made that easy.” She continued, “Their dynamic on film is terrific … they could have their own little talk show, I think, if they could put up with each other for that long. They have a great dynamic; there is a lot of yin and yang. He is very organized and forward thinking and she is much more wacky and in the moment. It is a terrific yin and yang that was a pleasure to be around.”
On tackling the tragedies and emotional moments, Garbus reflected, “They are both people that have gone through a lot of loss and we all try to impose a narrative to loss. ‘Why did this happen? What is the reason? Why did someone take their life? Why did someone have to die at a certain time?’ And I think Anderson in his early choices of being a war reporter was trying to seek out all of those answers. ‘Why do children in Bosnia have to live like this?’ And at a certain point you learn that the world doesn’t have answers for all of that. And he said that you have to live in a world without the why. And I think that that is a very profound realization and we all want to fight against that. We want closure, we want narratives, and there isn’t always that … I love the moment where Anderson learns for the first time that his mom married a man who was just accused of killing his former wife. And he is just shocked. And it was just so clear that they had never had that conversation and he was like ‘What?’ and she was like ‘Darling, I was just 17.’ It is just such a moment of people learning and experiencing each other on screen and that doesn’t usually happen.”
Anderson Cooper loved the film’s poster. “It’s not by my mom, but it is very similar to my mom’s artwork and so when Liz Garbus showed me the poster, I thought it was amazing. It’s in my mom’s style of collage but it’s her life.” When asked what he hopes viewers take away from the film Cooper shared, “I think the idea is to encourage people to try and change the way they communicate with an aging parent and before it’s too late to talk to a parent and to leave nothing unsaid before it is too late. And I hope that is one of the things that comes out of this film. And also showing the public what my mom’s life really is like. A lot of people know the name, Gloria Vanderbilt, but they don’t really know her story and who she is and I think this film really reveals who she is … There was a lot I didn’t know. My mom didn’t talk a lot about her childhood and didn’t talk much about her past when I was a kid. And to suddenly find out these secrets later on in life has been a joy and a blessing.”