In a culture frozen by the social mores of the Cold War era, Neal Cassady — a Denver boy who was the inspiration for Jack Kerouac’s On the Road — burned bright. Allen Ginsberg branded Cassady an icon of the Beat Generation, a movement that Cassady’s wife, Carolyn, derided as a first-rate marketing campaign, says local filmmaker Heather Dalton, director of Neal Cassady: The Denver Years, which premieres tonight at the Sie FilmCenter. The film was produced by Joshua Hassel.
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Dalton, who has been working on the film for seven years, describes it as a love letter to Cassady and the city of Denver. “A lot of people perceive [Cassady] as a one-dimensional character, the archetype of American cool,” says Dalton, who guides viewers through some of the lesser-known parts of Cassady’s life, including his childhood in a Larimer Street flophouse, his genuine desire to provide for his family and his iffy aspirations to write. “Seeing so much destruction as a child, he embraced life, almost courting death, truly living life in a way that a lot of people are unable to embrace.”
The film screens at 7 p.m. as part of DocNight at the Sie, 2510 East Colfax Avenue. Tickets are $15 for non-members and $12 for members. For more information, go to denverfilm.org or call 303-595-3456
Thu., June 26, 7 p.m., 2014