“The Bill Hicks Story” comes alive at Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival

23 08 2010

Los Angeles, CA – Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles announced today that “American: The Bill Hicks Story” will be presented as the 2010 festival’s Opening Night Film, Wed., Sept, 8th, 7:30 pm at the new 400-seat Civic Center F. Deaton Auditorium, at the corner of 1st and Main St., across from City Hall in downtown L.A.
The presentation will mark the Los Angeles premiere for the critically acclaimed film that has been commercially released in Europe and previously screened in North America at HotDocs in Toronto, SXSW in Austin, the Boston Int’l Film Festival and the Seattle Int’l Film Festival. In its review, The Hollywood Reporter said “the groundbreaking comedian gets a step closer to immortality with American…funny, well executed” and achieving a “compelling intimacy.” The Daily Mirror (UK) called it “hysterically funny and deeply moving tribute to a true American outlaw.” Variety called it a “fascinating portrait of a born funnyman who seemed to know early on that his time was limited.”

With exclusive interviews from the people who knew Hicks intimately, filmmakers Paul Thomas and Matt Harlock boldly recreate scenes throughout the comedian’s life using a stunning new form of photo-animation that Esquire called “brilliant and beguiling,” allowing the audience to be immersed in Bill’s world as he moves from Houston to Los Angeles, where he achieved his first level of success at the famed Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip. (His name is still featured on the Comedy Store’s Wall of Fame.) Hicks would go onto to make his mark not only in the LA comedy community, but nationally as well, appearing on “Late Night with Letterman” eleven times, as well as two of his own HBO specials.

His life and career, which promised even more to come, was tragically cut short when he was diagnosed at age 32 with pancreatic cancer and died in 1994 within a matter of months. Known as a comedian in the vein of Lenny Bruce, Dick Gregory and Mort Sahl who wasn’t afraid to tackle “big ideas” on politics, religion and even the meaning of life in a stand-up comedy routine, Hicks started with a cult following, first through word-of-mouth, bootlegs and VHS, and is now tipping into a much wider mainstream following.

The filmmakers comment: “Although Bill was a superstar outside America, the challenging nature of his material meant he never got the chance to be seen unedited by mainstream US audiences, but since the rise of Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show,” Stephen Colbert and Lewis Black, the landscape has changed. Considered by many in the comedy community to be one of the most important stand-ups America ever produced, this firebrand comic’s freethinking message of acceptance and hope is more relevant in today’s world than ever. Above all though, his is the human story of an artist who had to overcome great obstacles, personal and professional, to try and make the world a better place. As such, its for everyone.”

Headlining at festivals around the States, and now the second most successful theatrical documentary release in the UK this year, the film is now primed to firmly secure Bill’s place on America’s cultural map.

In “American,” Hicks’ story is told by the 10 people who knew him best; his family and closest friends who recount the twists and turns of his life with a freshness that hasn’t faded in 15 years. From Los Angeles filmmaker Kevin Booth, Bill’s lifelong friend, to the Outlaw Comics who introduced Bill into their heady world of drugs and alcohol, to photographer David Johndrow who perceptively captures some of the most revelatory moments of Bill’s life, each speaker is a compelling narrator who still carries a piece of Bill with them and, woven together, they bring a palpable sense of Bill’s presence to the screen.

“We’re privileged to present the Los Angeles premiere of this compelling film about a truly original comedian whose humor still resonates today,” said Rod Ramsey, DFFLA Director of Programming. “For those who already know Bill Hicks, the movie reveals all, including how some of his most famous skits were directly connected to events in his early life. For those who aren’t acquainted with Hicks, suffice to say that Letterman taped and then banned his last televised skit from his show. He was a rebel with a cause and a punchline.”

The 2010 Downtown Film Festival L.A. will be held Sept. 8-12 in venues throughout Los Angeles’ historic core. More than 100 feature-length and short films – narrative, documentary and experimental – will be presented along with filmmaker Q&As, panel discussions, cocktail parties, live music events and receptions. For more information, please visit us online at www.dffla.com.

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