Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival


Edition 2021


Tributes and Retrospectives - Mike Dibb

Painted with My Hair

A film by Mike Dibb

Mike Dibb’s latest film, the unreleased Painted with My Hair (2021), which has its world premiere at LEFFEST, is a haunting portrait of Donny Johnson, a North American prisoner who was in solitary confinement for 24 years, during which time he developed an urge to paint. As he was not allowed to keep painting materials in his cell, Johnson made brushes out of his own hair and used M&M's and Skittles to make colours, painting on the back of postcards. Dibb was interested in this figure much in the same manner he got interested in many other characters with unusual trajectories – out of sheer curiosity: “My films are driven by curiosity. I meet people who interest me. It doesn't matter who they are. I'm very interested in a lot of things! I don't know much – but I love to discover.”
  • Cast:

    Donny Johnson
  • Original Title:

    Painted with My Hair
  • Country:

    United Kingdom
  • Year:

  • 75’ Original Version EN


Mike Dibb

Mike Dibb is an acclaimed documentary filmmaker, most of which made for television, covering film, art, literature, music, science, sport and popular culture. After completing a degree at Trinity College, Dublin, he was hired in 1963 by BBC TV. He worked as an editor in the Film department until 1967, when he moved to the Music and Arts department, where he remained until 1981. During this period he directed several films, including multiple collaborations with writer John Berger (who in 2015 was a guest at LEFFEST ), the most well-known of which is the four-part series Ways of Seeing, awarded the BAFTA for Best Specialty Series and which later became a book translated and published worldwide, one of the most important for several generations of artists and students of art. Dibb has also made some films about writers, such as Octavio Paz, Lorca, A-S. Byatt or Elmore Leonard. In 1981, he joined Third Eyes Productions, where he continued to direct and produce, primarily for Channel Four. In 1986, he created his own production company, Dibb Directions Ltd. He collaborated with the BBC once again, making films and series such as Made In Latin America, about Latin American culture. In 1994, he co-directed with Stephen Frears the documentary Typically British, about the history of British cinema. His film The Miles Davis Story won the Royal Philharmonic Society Television Award and an Emmy for Best Art Documentary of the Year (2001). He also made a film about Keith Jarrett and another about the composer and bandoneon player Astor Piazolla.
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