WE NEED YOUR HELP TO COMPLETE THIS FILM.
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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. “
Henry Ferrini was born in Boston in the early 50’s. After dropping out of college to pursue music he landed in Gloucester, Massachusetts. There he turned in his woodwinds for a camera. In 1978 he made his first film about environmental responsibility for the Gloucester Arts and Humanities. Over the last 40 years his work has focused on what Jack Kerouac calls, “the great continent of New England.” His interest in cultural geography and an abiding love for it’s underbelly has taken him to surrounding working-class communities of the industrial Northeast unearthing material many would overlook. Ferrini films employ a lyrical approach that allows for exploration of his subject’s philosophies, thoughts and ideas. His films have been called “evokumentaries.” This style is manifest in his last release, Polis is This : Charles Olson and the Persistence of Placean hour long journey through the poet and filmmaker’s hometown guided by Amiri Baraka, Robert Creeley, Anne Waldman, Vincent Ferrini, John Sinclair, Ed Sanders and John Malkovich. Bill Corbett of the Boston Phoenix called Polis, “the best film about an American poet, ever.”Ferrini's current project focuses on the saxophonist Lester Young. President of Beauty explores the musical, racial, political and cultural environment that shaped the life of Lester Young. When Jazz ambassador Dizzy Gillespie was asked if Mr. Young was the bridge between Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker, his reply was “Lester is no bridge, he’s the river.” Like the river Lester’s music floats through America from 1909 to today. From New Orleans up stream to Minneapolis and LA to Paris, this iconic American master musician, poet, hipster and griot begins his career playing minstral shows in his father’s carnival band. In the 30’s while dodging Jim Crow he become the Jimi Hendrix of the swing generation. The music watered the seeds the civil rights movement as it brought Americans of all pursuations into the same halls to dance and enjoy life. His influences on music, language and fashion captured the imaginations of a range of artists. Frank Sinatra, BB King, Harry Belafonte, Sonny Rollins, Michael Basquiat, and Marvin Gaye are a testament to his shaping of origins of the coolmask in America culture.