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Why does Vogue editor Anna Wintour declare, “We all get dressed for Bill”? Well, it’s high time we find out, and very possibly fall in love with the exuberant photographer Bill Cunningham. He has been cycling around Manhattan for over 30 years, capturing both street style and high society fashion for The New York Times (just don’t go mistaking him for a fashion photographer or paparazzo!). But despite being a veritable cycling fashion encyclopaedia, Bill certainly doesn’t look the part. The spritely gent – who celebrates his 80th birthday during the documentary – prefers to gad about in a blue smock, the uniform of Parisian street sweepers.
Richard Press’s pitch-perfect documentary is a gentle, heart-warming and infectiously celebratory affair. Winning audience awards at both Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals, Bill is already a proven crowd-pleaser, with his jocular laugh and marvellous joie de vivre sure to leave you beaming. There is a sublimely old-fashioned and honourable quality about Bill, which extends to his reticence in discussing his private life and his single-minded desire to play a straight game; a seemingly herculean task in the Big Apple. Instead Bill lives by a wonderfully simple code: “He who seeks beauty will find it.”