Toward the end of her life, Marilyn Monroe wasn’t the doomed, tragic figure of popular perception.
Liz Garbus, director of one of the festival’s gala documentaries, Love, Marilyn, notes that Monroe seemed actually on the verge of a new creative path not long before her death.
Garbus uncovered a letter that Monroe had written in December, 1961, to the famed acting teacher Lee Strasberg, about forming an independent production unit. Marlon Brando was said to be on board, and Monroe wanted Strasberg, with whom she had a deep working relationship, to come out to California to participate.
The fact that Monroe continued to fight against an industry that was still only giving her two-dimension, dumb-blonde roles was news to Garbus. “That was something I didn’t understand about Marilyn Monroe,” the director says, “this side of an ambitious person always looking to improve herself and to expand herself as an actress and the types of roles offered to her.”
These are the character traits which Garbus wanted to highlight, “the idea of her really as a creative person who had very good taste about the types of projects she wanted to do and a very clear vision about her future. She wasn’t the weak, drug-addled pawn that we all thought of her as.”