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LET IT COME DOWN: THE LIFE OF PAUL BOWLES

Canada, 1998 (MIFF 1999, Documentaries)

Director: Jennifer Baichwal

Against the backdrop of the exotic landscape of North Africa, the enigma of iconoclastic writer Paul Bowles begins to unravel. Most well known tor his masterful The Sheltering Sky, which Bernardo Bertolucci adapted tor the screen, and a succession of hallucinatory novels and short story collections, the reclusive Bowles speaks with unprecedented candour about his work and controversial private life.

Friends and lovers provide contlicting details about key events and relationships in Bowles life, memory of the past tainted with fond rememberance or traces of scandal. His 50 year residence in Morocco commenced after leaving the US in the 40s, a contemporary and peer of Gertrude Stein, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote and Gore Vidal. Approaching middle age, Bowles was considered a literary Godfather to the emerging Beats. Most of the key figures of this fractured movement visited him in Morocco, attracted as much by the stories of cheap and plentiful sex and drugs as they were to a mentor. One of the key moments in this remarkable documentary is an exclusive meeting between Bowles, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg in New York, shortly before the deaths of the latter two.

An unorthodox marriage—both Bowles and his wife Jane were bisexual—a constant hashish haze and writing that remains exhilarating and provocative to this day make for a film of power and intrigue. Let it Come Down... lifts the veil from a literary legend whose life and work has always been shrouded in mystery.

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