Cleveland International Film Festival } April 7 – April 20, 2021

NIGHT WALTZ: THE MUSIC OF PAUL BOWLES

Year: 1999
Country: United States
Run Time: 80 minutes

The New York Times eulogized Paul Bowles as a quintessential outsider and literary genius, the Wall Street Journal as a kif-smoking nihilist who squandered his talents. He was a youthful composer and disciple of Aaron Copeland who blithely tossed away a chance for study under the great Prokofiev, and a handsome, successful author who, after a prophetic dream, shunned the big book/movie/talk-show deal to dwell with a lesbian wife in self-exile in Morocco. Bowles attained cult-hero status largely by refusing to play the celebrity game, and when a movie was at long last wrought from his best-known book, "The Sheltering Sky" (15th CIFF, 1991), the novelist pronounced it "awful." Bowles, filmed here in his adopted home of Tangier, where he died in 1999, seems amused and slightly skeptical when approached by a documentary film crew seeking to spotlight his early (1930s-1950s) career in music. But he complies, telling tales of Gertrude Stein, Orson Welles, and Tennessee Williams, of New York, Mexico, and North Africa. Bowles' melodies are heard as accompaniments for the short films of photographer Rudy Burckhardt, an old acquaintance (and another 1999 obituary). While Bowles claims to have given up music long ago, the way he taps out rhythms almost continually with his fingers ? plus an unforgettable closing sequence ? proves that music was with him right up to the end.

Director
Owsley Brown III

Producer
Owsley Brown III, Robin Burke.

Cinematography
David Golia, Gene Salvatori, Rudy Burckhardt, Nathaniel Dorsky.

Editing
Nathaniel Dorsky.

Principal Cast
Paul Bowles, Philip Ramey, Abdelouahaid Boulaich, Joseph A. McPhillips II, Karim Jihad Achouatte.

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