One of the big questions many have coming away from Lisa DApolitos mesmerizing feature documentary Love, Gilda which kicked off Tribeca on Wednesday is why Gilda Radner Saturday Night Live peers Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and even Father Guido Sarducci (aka Don Novello) arent interviewed in the movie.
Truth be told DApolito did in fact reach out to all of Radners peers -well over 100 names- however, some never responded. No hard feelings, DApolito gets it.
“Its hard for everybody (to talk about Radner),” says the director, “People loved her so much and to talk about her, was very painful because it brought back that loss. I totally understand why people didnt want to be in it. Its personal.”
Of those SNL folks who worked with Radner in the doc are her writing partner Alan Zweibel, SNL producer Lorne Michaels, Martin Short (who was in Godspell with Radner), Chevy Chase, and Laraine Newman.
Whats striking about the doc is how DApolito gets into Radners ID, and how much of the film is narrated by the late comedienne. Much of that stems from the 32-hour audio archives which Gildas brother Michael Radner provided to DApolito including a chemo-therapy short that the comedienne made. Radners audio files are from when she was writing her autobiography Its Always Something. DApolito found her way to making the doc as she helmed many of the videos for Radners fundraising non-profit for cancer patients Gildas Club.
Before Radners husband Gene Wilder passed in August 2016, DApolito spent a day with him about a year before he died. Wilder is not in the doc out of respect for the fact that he was ill in the last year of his life. “You can tell why Gilda loved him. People say he wasnt funny, but he was funny,” says DApolito.
“He told me all kinds of great stories, he said he couldnt live with her and couldnt live without her. I think that kind of sums up their relationship,” says the director.
Love, Gilda continually underscores how Radner was a pioneer for female empowerment in comedy. “Gilda felt equal to men,” says DApolito, “She could be up there with John Belushi and all these guys and if it wasnt working her way, shed would find a way to make it work.”
The CNN Films doc will air in early 2019.