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Make a Joyful Noise

‘Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton’ is revelatory

By Marjorie Baumgarten, 9:50AM, Wed. Aug. 27

Make a Joyful Noise

Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton is as much a sketch of the artistic renaissance of post-World War II San Francisco as it is a focused portrait of this unique poet and filmmaker.

A proponent of joyful pansexuality and a queer activist long before there was a queer movement to support him, Broughton and much of his work predated the free-thinking beatniks of the Fifties and hippies of the Sixties. Broughton’s output to this day remains a harbinger of things to come.

The film, which premiered as SXSW Film ’13, screens tonight at the Austin Film Society Screening Room at 7:30pm, and is co-presented by OutSider Film and Arts Festival. Reprinted below is my review from SXSW, tickets are available at www.austinfilm.org.


Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton
Documentary Feature Competition, World Premiere
D: Stephen Silha, Eric Slade; with James Broughton, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Anna Halprin

Some are familiar with James Broughton, the experimental filmmaker from San Francisco. Others know Broughton, the poet, whose work presaged the Beat Generation. Some only know his work as queer activist and think of him as an apostle of joyful pansexuality. A few are even aware of Broughton because of the liaison he had with Pauline Kael in the late Forties that produced a child, whom Kael would raise alone. All of these aspects of Broughton's life and more come into focus in the documentary Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton. Co-directors Slade and Silha interview a vast number of people who were friends and supporters of Broughton and his work during these various periods and creative expressions. Through their recollections, an integrated portrait begins to emerge of Broughton, who died in 1999, and of the inspirational role he played in the American arts in the latter half of the 20th century. – Marjorie Baumgarten


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