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BOY MEETS BURROUGHS
In 2005, then-21-year-old Yony Leyser got his hands on a video camera and decided to make a documentary about William S. Burroughs. As he delved deeper and deeper into the life of the legendary author, Yony's curiosity and enthusiasm — along with the help of some friends — allowed him to finish the film on a budget of next to nothing. This month, four years after, the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City announced that Yony's film had been accepted and would premiere at the 2010 festival's opening night.
THE BIZARRE AND EXPENSIVE WORLD OF FILM FESTIVALS
The goal at the Slamdance Film Festival is to connect with a distributor that will release the film in theaters and on DVD, exposing the odd and beautiful world of Burroughs to the public. Slamdance runs concurrently with its big brother, Sundance, and is our best shot to do this.
The expenses associated with putting a film in a festival are substantial — we have to hire a publicist, cover travel costs, print posters, convert the film to HD, and pay for final footage rights. Our credit cards are maxed out, our checking accounts empty. Regardless, we want to make this happen.
ABOUT THE MOVIE — WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS: A MAN WITHIN
William S. Burroughs: A Man Within paints a tender portrait of the Beat author and American icon, whose works at once savaged conservative ideals, spawned vibrant countercultural movements, and reconfigured 20th century popular culture.
It features never-before-seen archival footage, as well as exclusive interviews with Burroughs’ colleagues and confidants including John Waters, Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, John Giorno, Sonic Youth, Amiri Baraka, Anne Waldman, Gus Van Sant, Genesis P-Orridge and many more.
Burroughs was one of the first writers to cross the boundaries of queer and drug culture in the 1950s. His novel Naked Lunch was one of the last books banned in the United States, and now remains one of the most recognized literary works of the 20th Century. However, his friends were left wondering, did William ever find happiness? This intimate documentary breaks the surface of the troubled and brilliant world of one of the greatest authors of all time.
YONY LEYSER ON MAKING THE FILM:
I just started, and I interviewed Burroughs' friends that were still in Lawrence and then they started introducing me to other people. They introduced me to a beat poet by the name of Charles Plymell in upstate New York, who introduced me to Sonic Youth, who introduced me … on and on, and that’s how I got all the interviews. And doing this with no money — I just had a camera — puts you in some pretty interesting situations. I was looking at some footage the other day of when I went to go interview Iggy Pop, and it was pretty funny because I didn’t have a camera person and I was down in Miami and didn’t know anyone. So I talked to my friend and she said, “Yeah, I know someone who shoots porn, she can do it.” But in the end she couldn’t do it because she was also a repo person and had to repo some cars. She hooked me up with someone else and after he shot it we were driving back in his fancy Mercedes Benz, and he told me I had to give him all my money and my wallet before he gave me my equipment back and let me out of his car.
JAMES GRAUERHOLZ, EXECUTOR OF THE BURROUGHS ESTATE, ON YONY AND THE FILM:
When I saw that it was more than a collegiate's dream, I joined forces with him. Students have been known to have ambitions they don't act on. Yony had perseverance. He kept in touch. He kept going to see people. There have been a handful of other orphaned projects about Burroughs that have gotten scooped up by Yony. The way he assiduously looked for other projects impressed me. And above all he was getting on with my friends.
- (33 days)