Thursday, September 26, 2013

UT Press Book at the Heart of New, Award-Winning Documentary

In this week’s New York Times, film critic A.O. Scott reviews Treva Wurmfeld’s new documentary “Shepard & Dark” under the headline, “Two Writers Bound By Decades of Letters.” The film depicts the decades-long friendship between Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark. As Scott says,“Through it all, they wrote letters full of loose-limbed philosophizing, emotional candor and gruff wit. Those letters, which fill cartons and binders, provide the movie with its premise.” These letters now reside at the Wittliff Collection in San Marcos, Texas (the transference of which is also depicted in the film) and they will be published by UT Press for the first time in Two Prospectors: The Letters of Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark, available on October 15.

Sam Shepard, Johnny Dark, and their 40-odd years of friendship are fascinating. Their lives are unique case studies in modern masculinity, as both men struggled with loyalty, love, fame, and the nurturance of an independent creative drive. Sam and Johnny began their friendship in Greenwich Village in the 60s and stayed friends through unconventional living arrangements in 1970s San Francisco, Shepard’s rising fame in the 1980s, and the dramatic start to his relationship with actress Jessica Lange. Both the film and the book are deeply personal, and given Shepard’s commitment to privacy, also provide the best opportunity to understand the life behind one of America’s greatest living playwrights.

Film screenings

On October 10, The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX, hosts filmmaker Treva Wurmfeld and Johnny Dark for a screening and panel discussion of “Shepard & Dark.” Read more about the Sam Shepard collection.

The film comes to Austin on October 11, screening at the Violet Crown:

Watch the trailer of “Shepard & Dark,” released by Music Box Films:

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