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‘Levitated Mass,’ Doug Pray’s Rock Doc on LACMA’s Epic Boulder

originally posted on: Los Angeles Times by Carolina A. Miranda
September 08, 2014

If you were in Los Angeles in the spring of 2012, there seemed to be talk about one thing and one thing only: the rock. That was the informal name for “Levitated Mass,” the 340-ton boulder that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) spent 10 days and more than $10 million carting from a Riverside quarry to the heart of Los Angeles, for a work of sculpture produced by land artist Michael Heizer.

Over its convoluted 105-mile journey through 22 Southern California cities, the rock attracted thousands of onlookers, inspired a street party, generated conspiracy theories, drew outrage over the cost and got a crew of religious observers deliberating its divine qualities. At one point, the rock was forced to halt in front of a church in Carson called Roca de Salvacion — Rock of Salvation. In the eyes of many, not a coincidence.

Film director Doug Pray captures this spectacle in his new documentary, “Levitated Mass,” which after screening at last year’s Los Angeles Film Festival opens this Friday at the Landmark Nuart Theater in the Sawtelle area of Los Angeles.

The 88-minute rock doc is a congenial romp through that highly unusual journey. It chronicles the move. It chronicles the mountain of bureaucracy that the museum had to wade through in order to make that move happen. And it even got the notoriously reclusive Heizer on film. (Conclusion: He’s kind of a grumpypants.) But let’s be clear, it’s the rock, not Heizer, who is the star of this show.

“I treated it like a person,” Pray says, chuckling. “I filmed it from all these different angles. I’ve never known a rock so well.”

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