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"My Kid Could Paint That," directed by Amir Bar-Lev
[Elizabeth Cohen, Columnist -- The Press & Sun Bulletin] The very first light that was shone on Marla was by my photographer for my paper.
I wrote the first article.
[Amir Bar-Lev] So, how did you get personally involved with the story of Marla?
[Elizabeth Cohen, Columnist -- The Press & Sun Bulletin] Well, the way that I understand it, was a local painter, whose name is Anthony Brunelli, saw some of Marla's paintings at a friend's house, and he was just starting his new art gallery.
You know, originally, we thought he'd be showing a lot of work like his own, which is this hyperrealist work, this photorealism. So it was, kind of, just one guy's taste that started the whole ball rolling. Anthony contacted me and said, "I have a story for the paper. I'm going to have a show for a little girl, at my gallery." I said, "But why is that a story for me? 'Cause I'm not an arts reporter. I cover families and children and parenting issues." He said, "Well, it's a story for you because this is really a story about a family." So he framed it to me as a family, human-interest story about this night manager at a Frito-Lay factory who had this artist daughter, and his wife Laura is a dental assistant. They didn't know a lot about art, so this was all very left field for them.
Around this time, I met Laura. I saw her as a person who was going to be in a story I was going to write. Like a character almost.
But I also saw her as a mom, like myself, because we had children the same age.
I said, "Are you sure you want to do this?
Because this could be something that affects your life and your family. And it might not be all positive.
So maybe you don't want me to write this article. And you can just have this show here and go on with your lives as normal.
Needless to say, I wrote the story, and a week later, The New York Times picked up the story.
And it was like somebody had ignited a match under a fuse, and it started to burn. I could see how negative things could come out of it. And none of them were on the surface, but they were lurking.