Filmmaker Henry Ferrini says, “In March 2014 Lester Young will have been gone 55 years yet his swinging star shines bright in the film-in-progress, President of Beauty: the Life and Times of Lester Young. Sonny Rollins calls Lester “god” and a god he was for many players who paid their dues at mid-Century. The film will include interviews with Rollins and Harry Belafonte, Wayne Shorter, BB King, Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano, George Wien, David Amram, Amiri Baraka, Junior Mance and Gunther Schuller. Over several years I have traveled back and forth to New York shooting these interviews. The film is now at a point where I need to work in the cities where Lester was domiciled. As a longtime documentary veteran, my approach uses contemporary places combined with archival film, interviews and music to evoke our shared history. In President of Beauty the music and America’s troubled social history combine to evoke a sense of this much misunderstood American genius. The four-minute trailer gives a taste – seventy minutes more and I’ll have a movie so I’m looking for the friends of Lester Young. The interviews are in the can with more to come. Ornette Coleman, Branford Marsalis, Rene Urteger, Monica Getz and Lester’s family are on deck but this is crunch time. I need funding to shoot in Los Angeles, New Orleans, Mississippi, Minneapolis, Paris and Kansas City.
Years ago the process began when I heard Phil Schaap play François Postif’s interview with Young. I immediately knew this would be my next film. I wrote Postif inquiring about the rights and was told they were sold to a third party. I tracked the rights and purchased them. This historic forty-five minute audio interview recorded five weeks before Lester passed creates the narrative arc of the President of Beauty. This interviews plus animation that visualizes Lester in his Paris Hotel, as well as archival footage and contemporary footage of the places Lester lived comprise the visuals. My signature is not on this film yet. I have shot only interviews. I need to catch the dawns over the Mississippi River, dusk at 12th Street and Vine, the rain on the streets of Paris and the uptown night people. Lester lives in these shadows of our cultural memory and I need your help to bring him into focus. Thank you for your time and interest.”