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Directed by Teller

United States 2013 80 mins. In English

In 2001, in his book Secret Knowledge, artist David Hockney argued that some classical painters—Johannes Vermeer (“Girl with the Pearl Earring”) especially—had used camera optics in making their great paintings. There was controversy. Was this cheating? Why shouldn’t an artist do whatever he can think of? answered Hockney. But Tim Jenison, a Texas software inventor, considered how he might use 17th-century technology to achieve Vermeer’s photographic look. When his first experiment seemed to work, he thought, “Why not paint my own Vermeer?” Spanning eight years, Jenison’s riveting mystery-adventure takes him to Delft, where Vermeer painted his masterpieces, on a pilgrimage to the north coast of Yorkshire to visit Hockney, and even to Buckingham Palace. Narrated by the ever-ebullient Penn and directed by the silent Teller, both longtime friends of Jenison’s, Tim’s Vermeer is a bouncy, entertaining, real-life detective story.