I WAS THERE: THE MUSIC DOCS OF JULIEN TEMPLE — JOE STRUMMER: THE FUTURE IS UNWRITTEN (Julien Temple, 2007)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th St. between Eighth Ave. & Broadway
Saturday, August 1, 3:30
Festival runs July 29 - August 7
Director Julien Temple, who has made two outstanding documentaries about the Sex Pistols (The Great Rock and Roll Swindle and The Filth and the Fury), turns his camera on Joe Strummer of the British punk group the Clash in The Future Is Unwritten. Temple collects remarkable home movies of Strummer, from his early days as young John Mellor, a career diplomat’s son, through his time as the leader of one of the most famous and controversial bands in the world and his death at the age of fifty from a congenital heart defect. Strummer’s friends and family gather around a campfire in Brooklyn’s Empire St.-Fulton Ferry Park and talk about Strummer’s life and career, sharing keen insight in a format that the musician loved; his campfire get-togethers came to be known as Strummerville, a place for people to assemble and discuss life, art, and anything else that came to mind. Temple adds lots of footage of the Clash in action, as well as clips from Strummer’s earlier band, the 101ers, made up of squatters fighting the power, and his last band, the Mescaleros. Temple also brings some of Strummer’s drawings to life, animating them in humorous ways. Strummer essentially narrates the film himself, as Temple includes audio excerpts from Strummer’s “Last Call” radio show and interviews he gave over the years. Temple, a close friend of Strummer’s, paints a fascinating portrait of the complex man, featuring stories from the likes of Bono, Johnny Depp, Flea, Mele Mel, Courtney Love Cobain, Martin Scorsese, Steve Jones, John Cusack, Matt Dillon, Steve Buscemi, Damien Hirst, Roland Gift, Don Letts, Mick Jones, and many others. And there’s lots of music as well, of course, including several versions of “White Riot.” The Future Is Unwritten is screening August 1 at 3:30 in the “I Was There: The Music Docs of Julien Temple” sidebar of Lincoln Center’s annual “Sound + Vision” series, which also includes The Filth and the Fury, The Clash: New Year’s Day ’77, Dave Davies: Kinkdom Come, Ray Davies: Imaginary Man, Glastonbury, Never Mind the Baubles: Christmas with the Sex Pistols, and The Liberty of Norton Folgate, with Temple on hand for various introductions and Q&As.