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Patti Smith: Dream of Life Airs Tonight on PBS

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patti smith.jpg
Photo of Patti Smith in performance | Photo by richt/tlobf on flickr

Photo of Patti Smith in performance | Photo by richt/tlobf on flickr
About one year ago, Nuart Theater in Los Angeles premiered the award-winning Dream of Life, a documentary about rock legend Patti Smith, filmed by Steven Sebring. It was not highly publicized but the theater was crowded with an audience spanning all ages, all curious to see how a piece that was filmed over eleven years would portray Patti Smith. At the end of the documentary, my friends and I found ourselves wanting more, even though we secretly admitted it was quite long.

Today, one year later and on Patti Smith's 63rd birthday, PBS is airing Dream of Life as part of their POV series. The film is a must-see -- it's much more than a rock documentary -- in fact, it shows clips of her performances but never shows Patti Smith performing a full song in its entirety. Instead it is a well-rounded and inspiring view into the life (eleven years' of a life) of a rock singer, a poet, an artist, a mother, an activist, a feminist, and a truly wonderful being who has experienced so much tragedy in her life.

The consistency of Patti Smith's persona and humility over the eleven years of filming is impressive, and she's quoted as saying, "I haven't changed all that much as a performer... I still have the same visions, and I still like to make a lot of noise and a lot of loud feedback on my guitar." To top it off, the cinematography is utterly breathtaking, a reason to see the film even if you're not interested in who Patti Smith is, which is, well, hard to believe.

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In Los Angeles, Dream of Life is airing tonight at 9pm PST on local PBS stations. But just to be sure, check your local listings as some PBS stations are showing the film several times between today and January 6th. Here's the trailer for the screening of Dream of Life on PBS, and a trailer from the Sundance preview of the documentary.