SXSW 2000 Film Festival and Conference

The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack

Dir/DP/Prod/Scr: Aiyana Elliott; Prod: Paul Mezey, Dan Partland; Co-Prod/Scr: Dick Dahl; Exec Prod: Hunter Gray, Tyler Brodie, Jesse Crawford; Ed: David Baum, Susan Littenberg; Music: Ramblin' Jack Elliott.

35mm, 105 min., 1999 (RP)

Ramblin' Jack Elliott is a folksinger in the mold of Jimmie Rodgers and Woody Guthrie; indeed, Guthrie and Elliott were friends for years. Through archival footage, travels with her father in an RV, and interviews with such people as her mother, Arlo Guthrie, Dave Van Ronk, and Kris Kristofferson, daughter Aiyana traces her father's life and explicates the complex relationship between them. The singer spent most of his life as a troubadour with an urge to travel. Though Bob Dylan, Jerry Jeff Walker, and many others cite Elliott among their influences, success and stability eluded the singer. As for his role as father, a question about his parenting skills was met with a very lengthy and telling pause by Aiyana's mother. Aiyana Elliott has fashioned a very personal, engaging film that expresses her combination of love and frustration with her absentee father (a combination felt by everyone close to him); her shots from the RV window of the American landscape play like a love letter to the lure of the open road.

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