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Polis Is This

Next Screening
August 6, 2009
7pm, Hooker Dunham Theater Brattleboro, VT

more info & screenings >Polis Is This



Polis Is This includes performances by: John Malkovich, Robert Creeley, Amiri Baraka, Pete Seeger, Jonathan Williams, Vincent Ferrini, Peter Anastas, John Stilgoe, Anne Waldman, Ammiel Alcalay, Susan Thackery, Charles Olson, Charlie Olson, Charles Boer, John Sinclair, Willie Alexander, Stefan Wolpe, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Charles Stein, Michael Rumaker & Black Mountain College.

People ask how I ever got John Malkovich to read for Polis Is This.

  John Malkovich

The Story begins in the late 1970's when I drove a Checker cab in Boston. After my shift I'd rush home and tune in "Screening Room", an inspiring and enlightening showcase of documentary, animated and experimental film. From 1:00 to 3:00 a.m. I basked in the inspirational light; films by Emile DeAntonio, Stanley Brakhage, Susan Pit, Ricky Leacock and Les Blank. I was always a foreign film fan back then but Screening Room was the beginning of my education in independent film making. The erudite, cigarette smoking host was the renowned filmmaker and Director of the Film Study Center at Harvard University, Robert Gardner.

Fast-forward twenty or so years, I'm working on POLIS and contact Robert to see if I could talk to him about the film. He agrees and we meet for lunch. Bob knew about Olson and that my previous film Lowell Blues: the Words of Jack Kerouac had featured the voice of Johnny Depp. He wondered if I had considered John Malkovich as a reader for POLIS. The actor had recently moved with his family to Bob's neighborhood in Cambridge. John was not familiar with Olson's work but was a Kerouac fan and I think saw an opportunity to learn, so he agreed. It was a wonderful stroke and as you can see and hear John's interpretation of Olson's verse is riveting.

olson sitting
olson smoking
By courtesy ©Ann Charters from beats & company-portrait of a literary generation.

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