Imber’s Left Hand (2014, 73 min.) traces this artist’s life and adaptations, switching from painting with his right hand to his left, then to both as the degenerative condition worsens. Adversity only makes him more determined: more than 100 portraits in three month.
The film first encounters Imber in his studio with his partner, the beautiful painter Jill Hoy, analyzing Jon's self-portrait and talking about the terror to come. The painting becomes an unsettling metaphor of his psychological journey living into his dying through his art. The way in which Imber carries on against the greatest of odds is at the heart of this portrait. Especially moving is how members of his community rally to his support, dropping by to give his swollen and atrophied hands a massage or bring a dish, as he invites them to have their portrait painted. In one portrait session, a spry 93 year old is told by Imber that he will paint him "au naturel". "Does that mean I have to take everything off?" he replies. The session becomes an exercise in Borscht Belt humor as Imber tells him he will do something radical -- paint a portrait series of naked 90 year olds!.
In the end, Imber’s Left Hand is a testament to the life-giving force that is art and the ability of two people and their community to face an uncertain future with passion and resolve. It's a tragic love story of how to die and how each of us can make our lives meaningful even as we approach our deaths.