What: “Howl” and “The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg”; Q&A with filmmaker Jerry Aronson
Where: Boedecker Theater, Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder
When: 6 p.m. Sunday and Monday
More info: $8-$10; limited seating; thedairy.org; 303-440-7826
For the first time since opening its doors to patrons this past March, the Dairy Center for the Arts’ Boedecker Theater will be welcoming a filmmaker to attend the screening of and discuss his movie. The pairing of 2010’s “Howl,” starring James Franco, with local filmmaker Jerry Aronson’s 1994 documentary “The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg” also marks the first time the complementary films will be exhibited together.
“Jerry’s film informs the screening of ‘Howl’ incredibly,” says Boedecker’s cinema manager Glenn Webb. “(‘The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg’) creates a context for ‘Howl,’ which has a fairly narrow focus.”
When a board member for the Boedecker Theater suggested that they present the double-feature, Webb immediately called friend Aronson about participating in the world premiere event, saying he thought it would be “a lot of fun.” Such an event is particularly important to Webb who sees the Boedecker as a new institution in town that can help to promote a sense of community that includes local filmmakers.
“I think any film is part of a communal experience,” says Aronson who along with having made “The Life and Times” also taught at CU from 1974 to 2008 and established the production division in the film studies program.
“To me,” says Aronson, “it’s cavemen sitting around the fire telling stories. There’s something about the energy of everyone around you laughing, crying, or not responding at all, and how this affects your reaction to the film. You can feel the energy in a theater environment that you don’t get as much at home by yourself.”
Aronson says that the first time he saw “Howl” at the Sundance Film Festival, he had “no idea” what he was going to see but knew that the filmmakers — Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman — had consulted his documentary during their production process. Franco had also studied Aronson’s film in order to better play Ginsberg.
“He was Allen,” says Aronson. “I’d been around Allen for many years, and when I saw Franco in ‘Howl,’ it was amazing. Truly amazing.”
Along with having co-directed/written “Howl,” Epstein is responsible for the 1984 documentary “The Times of Harvey Milk.” By bringing in director Gus Van Sant as the “Howl” executive producer, Epstein was able to get his and Friedman’s screenplay into the hands of Franco who played a supporting role in Van Sant’s Academy Award-winning 2009 film “Milk.”
“Jerry’s film was incredibly important in helping to physicalize Allen for James,” says Epstein. “It gave James something to work with. Some of the interview passages (of ‘Howl’) came directly from Jerry’s film, as well.”
“It’s an auspicious event,” says Epstein about the double-feature. “‘Howl’ is about such a specific time of this young artist’s life, and then you can see where he goes from there in Jerry’s film as he blooms as an artist, an activist and as a Buddhist.”
Already at work on his next project dealing with porn star Linda Lovelace of “Deep Throat” fame which until her recent pregnancy was to star Kate Hudson, Epstein says he hopes “Howl” will bring Ginsberg’s work and life story to new, younger audiences.
“A good biography of an interesting human being will always be important,” says Aronson. “Why are they making a movie out of Kerouac’s ‘On the Road?’ Why is ‘Howl’ (the poem) still big? For some reason, Allen’s work and life still hits a cord with today’s audiences. Whenever I showed ‘The Life and Times’ to students of mine in the past, they were always fascinated.”