circa 1969: Sean in Following Sean.
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
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.”
Sean opens June 23 at the Spectrum 8 Theatres (290 Delaware
Ave., Albany). For more information, call 449-8995 or visit
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,