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Long Strange Trip

Saturday, April 15, 2017
6:30 p.m.
Castro Theatre

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Guests Expected

Director Amir Bar-Lev and David Lemieux expected to attend April 15 screening.


Once upon a time, a young bluegrass fan—let’s call him Jerry—decided to start a group. He’d already been playing banjo in a Bay Area jug band, and was now looking for a musical project that would push boundaries a bit more. He enlisted a young folkie guitarist, an avant-garde composer who played bass, a ragged-looking blues-loving rocker, and an R&B drummer; later, an oddball percussionist would join the fray. After these scruffy youngsters began to attract a local following, they decided to change their name—and thanks to a random quote in an exotic tome, they became known as the Grateful Dead. The rest is rock history. You may think you know the long, strange story of the Dead—from Acid-Test house band to hippie troubadours to touring juggernaut—but Amir Bar-Lev’s deep-dive documentary (executive produced by Martin Scorsese) will make even the most diehard fan feel they’ve barely scratched the surface. Using home movies, concert clips, brand new interviews with surviving band and crew members, and never-before-seen footage of the group’s first mind-blowing trip through England, the filmmaker behind The Tillman Story (2010) charts the Dead’s ups and downs. But he also explores the culture that gave birth to their sound, as well as their adventures in live-show experimentation, their misadventures with mind-altering substances, and the phenomenon known as “Deadheads.” And most of all, Long Strange Trip focuses on Jerry Garcia, an artist who lived for the music and eventually found himself becoming a prisoner of fame. It’s both a love letter to the band and its lifer fans, and a peerless glimpse into the mindset of musicians who risked it all to find transcendence in camaraderie and the right improvised chord progression. —David Fear

Filmmaker Bio(s)

Berkeley-raised Amir Bar-Lev is an award-winning documentarian who has covered subjects ranging from survivors of the Holocaust (Fighter, 2000) to art-world prodigies (My Kid Could Paint That, 2007), patriotic soldiers (The Tillman Story, 2010), and the Penn State scandal (Happy Valley, 2014). He’s also the founder of Axis Films, a co-producer on the Oscar-nominated Hurricane Katrina doc Trouble the Water (2008), and the director of the multimedia Re:Generation Music Project (2011). His latest film, Long Strange Trip, recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
Film Details
  • Country(ies): USA
  • Language(s): English
  • Year: 2017
  • Running time: 238
  • Director(s): Amir Bar-Lev
  • Producer(s): Eric Eisner, Nick Koskoff, Alex Blavatnik, Justin Kreutzmann, Ken Dornstein
  • Editor(s): Keith Fraase, John Walter

Print Source:
Amazon Studios