Hot Docs, North America's biggest documentary film festival, kicks off its 2011 run on April 28 in Toronto. Jam-packed with documentaries running through May 8, Moviefone Canada will be there from start to finish, offering up looks at some of the festival's noted films.
When myth becomes reality, is it worth pushing back with the truth? What if your truth is wrong?
These are the questions asked of Carolyn Cassady in 'Love Always, Carolyn: A Film About Kerouac, Cassady and Me'; forty years after the death of her iconic husband Neal, it seems the record on his life and the details of his legend are somewhat off by her count. But does anybody care?
If you haven't been influenced by the beat generation, you likely know someone who has. Your free-spirited girlfriend, a college buddy who was into everyone and everything, or that Deadhead guy you met at a party.
Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs were the poster boys for the group. Their post-WWII writings and the way they lived their lives has been studied, copied and celebrated for the better half of a century. Many attribute the existence of their tiny group as the blueprint to a hippie movement.
Kerouac's book 'On The Road' continues to inspire with its living-for-the-moment mantra, and tales of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants travel. The central character in the book is Dean Moriarty, a.k.a. Neal Cassady. There have been attempts to capture his wild and exotic essence by other writers too, including Hunter S. Thompson, Ken Kesey, Ginsberg and the chronicling of his later years in Tom Wolfe's 'The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.'
Some truth was bound to get lost in the legend.
Put away the images of wild dancing, drunken singing and juggling sledgehammers and there may be time to meet the husband and loving father of three -- this is the image that Carolyn Cassady is out to sell. She will admit he wasn't perfect, had his animal side, and would disappear for long stretches, but there was also the guy in the suit who just hung out at home. Approaching 90 years old, and now making her home in the UK, Swedish filmmakers Maria Ramström and Malin Korkeasalo have made a document that attempts to tell Carolyn's side of the story. It's hard to know whether they came with this in mind or not.
The end result is a wonderful journey of reflection that includes many of those good times, but is littered with pain, uncertainty and frustration. She and her kids are the living documents that plainly display the consequences of one man's inspiring, but often-selfish behavior.
Much of the drama in this doc is over the perceived legacy of their family name. While her children would like her to monetize some of her claim to his legend, Carolyn isn't so sure. While she resents the constant questions about the 'Neal' chapters in her life, she also revels in the attention she receives at the readings of her book, 'Off The Road.' She preaches that he wasn't the man many believe he was, but the juiciest documents of his existence happened while she wasn't around.
It's these complexities that make 'Love Always, Carolyn' a great and important addendum to the Neal Cassady story. For the Beat reader and historian, it's a must.
Tuesday, May 3, 7PM - Isabel Bader Theatre
Thursday, May 5, 12:45PM - TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Sunday May 8, 9PM - Cumberland 3
For complete schedule and movie listings, visit the Hot Docs website.