1,200 people will wear blue to a bill cunningham screening in honor of the iconic photographer

The special tribute screening of 'Bill Cunningham New York' was added to the newportFILM lineup after the photographer's death late June.

by Hannah Ongley
02 August 2016, 6:17pm

Beloved late photographer Bill Cunningham was a legit New York icon, achieving Living Landmark status in 2009 after four decades capturing the city's streets and runways for the New York Times. Cunningham's death in late June at the age of 87 was felt strongly across Manhattan and the outer boroughs, but it's not just NYC that can lay claim to the iconic cyclist and shutterbug. Cunningham was a native New Englander and will get perhaps the sweetest tribute yet on Thursday during the year-round film series newportFILM in Rhode Island. At a special screening of the landmark 2010 documentary Bill Cunningham New York, 1,200 audience members will pay tribute to the late photographer by wearing his favorite color, WWD reports. newportFILM has requested that guests dress in blue in reference to the humble French workman's jacket that became as identifiable as Cunningham's bicycle or even camera. 

"When you think of Bill, you immediately think of him in that blue jacket," said newportFILM's executive director Terri Conners. "Every review of the film I've read always mentions the blue jacket. When we were trying to think of a theme, we were getting all creative and fun. And then all of a sudden I was like, 'How about blue — just blue?' We figured it would be a simple, but beautiful visual to see all of this blue up against the ocean on this big, huge green lawn. We wanted to make this an homage to his signature blue jacket. So we'll see."

Bill Cunningham New York will be screened as part of the event's annual picnic contest, meaning the guests will be judged on their royal blue tribute looks — and judges have reportedly been told to channel the late man of the hour. "They will also be keeping an eye out in the way that Cunningham did, and illustrate his knack for capturing things that the average passerby might not give a second look to or would chalk up to, 'Oh, that's just New York,'" Conners said.

Newport isn't the only city outside of Cunningham's adopted city to be marking his legacy. Further south at the Savannah College of Art and Design's museum, 66 of his previously unseen photographs from the legendary Battle of Versailles in 1973 are on view until August 21, as part of an exhibition announced just one month before his death. 


Text Hannah Ongley
Photography Paul Stein via Flickr

Bill Cunningham
bill cunningham new york