City Lights presents: FERLINGHETTI

First show: March 23

Q&A with Christopher Felver after 3/23 screening.

Intro with Christopher Felver before 3/25 screening.

Part of  FERLINGHETTI at 100


The poet and writer, Lawrence Ferlinghetti is an iconic presence in the world of arts and letters. For well over half a century, he has helped shape the currents of poetry and literature with his forceful engagement with society and an ideological position that often found him at odds with the political dogma of his day. Ferlinghetti’s quiet, unassuming demeanor and disarming mien may have assuaged, or even fooled, certain opponents, while in reality he was a literary mercenary, a rebel at the forefront of our own cultural revolution.

In this definitive documentary film, director Christopher Felver crafts an incisive, sharply wrought portrait of Ferlinghetti that reveals his true role as catalyst to so many literary careers and the Beat movement itself. Felver’s one-on-one interviews, made over a decade with Ferlinghetti, touch upon a rich mélange of characters and events that began to unfold in postwar America. These events include the publication of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, as well as the divisive events of the Vietnam war, the sexual revolution and this country’s perilous march towards intellectual and political bankruptcy. For this milieu, Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Bookstore, itself a veritable institution, became a kind of base camp, a type of shrine, and a public house that represented change and literary freedom. Ferlinghetti, along with his literary and political colleagues, examine the inception of this still thriving literary institution and the historical place it holds in cultural America.

FERLINGHETTI explores the world of San Francisco’s legendary poet, artist, publisher and civil libertarian. The film presents poetry in the context of the living presence of Ferlinghetti as he reads many of his significant poems, discusses his political and social activism and gives viewers an insight into his public and private life as it unfolds over nine remarkable decades. The film also features archival photographs and historical footage with appearances by Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Billy Collins, Dennis Hopper, Robert Scheer, Dave Eggers, and Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Snyder and other “movers and shakers” from the literary, political and art community, further underscoring the enormous social impact Ferlinghetti’s legacy continues to have on the American scene. The battles, triumphs, and failures that colored these eras reveal why he has become an internationally recognized cultural icon.

A Film by Christopher Felver. 88 min. 2009.

Presented by City Lights.

NOTE FILMS START RIGHT AT THE LISTED SHOWTIME. Roxie Theater trailers play during the 30 minutes prior to showtime.



City Lights presents: FERLINGHETTI: Upcoming Showtimes