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Art Beat

 

Innocence, circa 1969: Sean in Following Sean.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY SEAN? “Sean’s truly a kid of our modern times,” said the late François Truffaut of the star of Ralph Arlyck’s 1969 documentary short Sean. This 15-minute-long film featured the wise-beyond-his years, 4-year-old Sean ruminating on life in a Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco commune, dealing with speed freaks and smoking pot. As filmmakers do, Arlyck moved on, but he always wondered: “What happened to Sean?”

“People had often said it would be interesting to go back and find this kid,” Arlyck remembered in a recent telephone interview. “Right around 1994, at the time of the 25th anniversary of Woodstock,” he said, “these questions about the ’60s seemed to be in the air.” So, prodded by the moment—and the fact that this general level of interest would make financing possible—Arlyck began a decade-long journey to make a film about the man Sean had become.

The resulting documentary, Following Sean, opens tomorrow (Friday) at the Spectrum 8 Theatres. Arlyck will be making the trip up from his downstate home to do a Q&A following the 6:45 PM screening.

It wouldn’t be fair to give too much away about Sean’s life. It’s safe to say, however, that Sean confounded some of Arlyck’s expectations: “I was surprised. I guess I thought he would drift toward one extreme or another.” He also found the reaction of younger audiences interesting: “Young people respond to it well. . . . They identify with Sean.”

Since its release earlier this year, Following Sean has found favor with the critics. The New York Times praised it as “a liberal meditation on freedom and compromise, and a nostalgia trip graced by eloquent restraint.” Asked about this response, Arlyck described it as “extremely gratifying. When you invest 10 years of difficult effort to make a film. . . . I really enjoyed making it.”

Following Sean opens June 23 at the Spectrum 8 Theatres (290 Delaware Ave., Albany). For more information, call 449-8995 or visit www.spectrum8.com.

POETRY PARTY PLUS: “Award-winning poets, world-renown authors, Hollywood actors, and a hot up-and-coming regional band, The Kamikaze Hearts” will be the stars of the special shidig Poetry After Hours. This swanky event—“swanky” not being the first word that comes to mind when contemplating a mental image of the bearded KHearts—is a “major fundraising event” for Ausable Press, a regional independent press, “to benefit and support the promotion and publication of the best of our country’s contemporary poetry.” For an admission fee of $50, you can enjoy wine, champagne and hors d’oeuvres by Classé Catering. There will be a silent auction. There will also be poetry readings by noted poets and actors, including Willem Dafoe (“schedule permitting”), Mary Beth Hurt (a terrific actress who is one of the more compelling regular guests on NPR’s Selected Shorts), Russell Banks, Jonathan Aaron, Adrian Blevins, Patrick Donnelly, James Richardson and Bruce Weigl. And a performance by the Kamikaze Hearts. For more information, visit www.ausablepress.org.

—Shawn Stone

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