One Cut, One Life Documentary Review
Filmmaking strength
Content is interesting
4.7Overall Score
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“One Cut, One Life.”

Pincus invented the biographical/personal documentaries which I find the most interesting. His last doc was made in this method.

“One Cut, One life” is the final documentary by Ed Pincus and Lucia Small. These two had been working together for several years and were close friends. Pincus was diagnosed with a terminal illness, but before his passing, he wanted to do one last documentary with Lucia Small, (Ed was her mentor). This would be the documentary of his final days of life.

Small had been through the deaths of two close friends, as if that wasn’t enough, Ed announces he has Leukemia and is terminal.

Since this documentary was filmed up close and personal, it can be uncomfortable at times. Most of those times include Ed’s wife of 50 years, Jane.

It’s painfully obvious that Jane is not interested in having Lucia around, especially in the last days of her husband’s life. Lucia is also uncomfortable and also questions her presence.

On good days we see Ed plus two out in the Garden, eating together and laughing. On bad days we see Ed at the doctor’s office trying to decide if he should try to eek some more time for life with a bone marrow transplant. Lucia is right there, much to Jane’s chagrin.

At one point Lucia stops going to the Pincus’ home in Vermont, but not for long.

In between the drama that is happening to Ed, Jane and Lucia, we learn of the tragic death of two of Lucia’s best friends.

It’s no spoiler to tell you that Ed dies at the end, but not before this documentary is finished.

The following two paragraphs are from the official film site for “One Cut,One Life”


Although many young filmmakers today may not know his name, Ed Pincus is considered a pioneer of documentary filmmaking, particularly in the first person autobiographical form. A Brooklyn street kid who eventually made his way to the Ivy League, Ed founded the MIT Film Lab in the late 60s, which became a hub of innovative and groundbreaking work and sparked a generation of critical filmmakers. Known for his innovations in film and technical contributions to the field, Ed is also the author of Guide to Filmmaking which evolved into The Filmmaker’s Handbook (co-authored with Steven Ascher) — a key textbook in film studies programs nationwide. Ed made several social issue, direct cinema films, including BLACK NATCHEZ and PANOLA before embarking on his magnum opus: DIARIES (1971-1975), an exploration of his open marriage and life during this time. At the peak of his film career, Ed had to abruptly leave his community in Cambridge, MA and move his family to Vermont. Eventually, Ed gave up filmmaking entirely and started a commercial flower farm which he ran for the next twenty plus years before a chance meeting with Lucia compelled him to return to film.

Lucia Small, 25 years Ed’s junior, is a former artist/activist turned documentary filmmaker. A Californian native, Lucia moved to Boston in the early nineties, where she worked as a producer in both fiction and non-fiction film. In late 2002, just after a successful festival run with her directorial debut MY FATHER, THE GENIUS, she and Ed met while on a film jury. For four days, they watched and judged films and discovered similar sensibilities despite their diverse paths and histories. Ed was excited to meet a person of a younger generation who was not afraid to venture into raw and risky places with her work. Self-taught, Lucia was excited to befriend the former teacher of several of her Boston mentors. Shortly thereafter, Ed approached Lucia with a plan — he wanted to start making films again with her. Was she in? Three years later, after several false starts, they finally combined forces to make THE AXE IN THE ATTIC, a film about the Diaspora of Hurricane Katrina which premiered at the New York Film Festival in 2007.

Terra’s Opinion

I do a lot of documentary reviews. I watch docs because truth is always stranger than fiction. Truth teaches and documentaries should always teach viewers something.

The relationship between Lucia, Ed and Jane is very complicated. It’s an uncomfortable thing for viewers (at least for me) to watch. If Ed and Lucia never had a closer relationship than teacher and student, and I don’t thing they did, that teaches that two professionals can work together, regardless of attraction and I do believe there was attraction.

The biographical style of this film is amazing. It’s like setting there listening into some very intimate details of a person’s life. The decisions they make, the arguments and tears are all shown. I know it sounds bad, but tell me that there isn’t a part of you that wants to hear what people at another table in a restaurant is saying. This is better than that.

I recommend this film, especially to film students. Ed Pincus was a genius and much can be learned from him.

This film is being distributed by “First Run Features.”


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About The Author

Always interested in a good indie film, my taste run towards Horror and documentaries. Rom-coms are my least favorite genre, but I will always take a look for the better good of the site. I've reviewed films for seven years and want to do it for about 20 more...we will see.

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