When she informed her father, New York Times media critic David Carr, that she wanted to become a film critic, he sat her down, told her there were only about six jobs for film critics in the country and suggested that she choose another career.
She became a documentary film maker and her first book, sparked by her father’s death four years ago at age 58, was published last month.
Carr, 31, will read from the book, ”All That You Leave Behind: A Memoir,” and sign copies of it at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 11 at the Montclair Film Festival. At 4 p.m. Saturday, her latest documentary, ”I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth V. Michelle Carter,” will be shown and she will answer questions after it.
The film is in two episodes, showing the prosecution and defense sides of the criminal case against the 17-year-old Massachusetts girl who was accused of sending texts to her boyfriend, encouraging him to commit suicide. It will be shown on HBO in July.
“It is a film about girlhood, about interacting with your phone, and what and how are we responsible for others during mental-health crises,” she said.
Carr, who grew up in Montclair, has shown two previous films at the film festival. The reason: Tom Hall, the festival’s executive director, who “is an incredibly thoughtful, amazing programmer,” she said. “He’s incredibly generous and he cares so much about New Jersey. He loves showing creative work there.”
Carr said she and her twin, Meagan, went to high school at the Mount after attending St. Cassian School in Montclair partly because her father believed strongly in religious education, “that it instilled values that gave you sort of a quieter entrance into adulthood.”
When she visited the all-girls Catholic high school at an open house, “I felt really like I was home and I felt like there was a lot of amazing, thoughtful teaching that I could learn from there.”
She loved the Mount, where she watched movies and read “a ton of books.”
“I felt like I got to be a kid in my adolescence. … I really was grateful that the school was this great safe bubble.”
The school also made her a feminist, she said, noting that all but one of her films have focused on women. “My education at Mount Saint Dominic groomed me to be a feminist and to care about female issues.”
Carr said she became a documentary film maker because she loved journalism and she saw women in power in that field. “It felt like a very natural fit for me. Telling stories, telling real stories but not following directly in my father’s footsteps.”
She decided to write her memoir while she was grieving for her father. She went through nearly 2,000 emails he had sent her since 2008 to re-examine his advice to her.
The two shared struggles with alcoholism. Carr’s parents both were addicts and the twins were placed in foster care as infants. When David Carr got clean, he regained custody, but their mother disappeared.
David Carr later married, and the couple had another daughter.
Erin Carr said, “The book is about fatherhood, it’s about being a daughter, it’s about finding your way in early adulthood and really about grief. While one of us might not have gone through all those things, there’s really elements of the book that can apply to almost anybody.”