If, as Susan Sontag once opined, photography makes us feel that the world is more available than it really is, then the fever-grip that the intimacy of celebrity tabloid photography exerts is, on a psychological level, an entirely understandable phenomenon. Still, in a society with broad freedoms of expression and the press, the junction of those liberties and personal privacy is a messy, complicated one. The documentary $ellebrity digs into that arguably symbiotic relationship between jostling, freelance photographers and their famous, sometimes unwitting subjects — examining celebrity culture, the increasingly bold intrusiveness of the paparazzi, and the jumbled intersection of authorized and unauthorized image management.
If it sounds empty and salacious, it’s not. And, of course, given the celebrity angle, it’s certainly not academic and boring, either. Directed with aplomb, the film is helmed by renowned rock ‘n’ roll and icon photographer Kevin Mazur, whose legitimacy and connections no doubt helped land the roster of famous actors and musicians who share their thoughts as interview subjects — a slate that includes Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lopez, Elton John, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sheryl Crow, Salma Hayek and Kid Rock. A smart, noteworthy socio-cultural snapshot, $ellebrity evinces a surprising depth, charting the history of paparazzi and how new media in particular has helped shape the landscape of entertainment journalism over the last 30 years. For the full, original review, from ShockYa, click here. For more information, click here to visit the film’s website. (D&E Entertainment/Run Rampant Productions, unrated, 90 minutes)