Since its publication in 1957, Jack Kerouac’s seminal novel “On the Road” has been a Holy Grail for several filmmakers heroically seeking to bring it to the screen. Of these, none has labored more ardently, or with such Arthurian purity of heart, than Brazilian director Walter Salles. Salles has lived and breathed the project since 2005, at times in the certain belief he was about to realize it, while at other times fearing it will never come to be. Unable to put it from his mind even as he was making other films, he crafted not one but two unseen feature-length documentaries. The first, fashioned in hopeful seasons, is an optimistic paean to the book, the Beats and the road movie; the second, drawn from darker hours, is an elegy to a seemingly unrealizable project and to the road-movie genre itself. (“There is nowhere to go, anymore, nothing more to discover, no point in being on the road,” is his lament.) For this special onstage tribute, celebrating his receipt of this year’s Founder’s Directing Award, Salles has fashioned a third cut from his trove of rich material, and will present an hour-long impressionistic essay featuring screen tests, road movie clips, candid personal reflections, period music, archival footage and interviews with key cultural figures. Never seen before and perhaps never to be screened again, the intimate work poignantly reveals not only the workings of one filmmaker’s mind but also the longings of his heart as he pursues an elusive object of cinematic desire. —Graham Leggat
Director/writer Walter Salles Jr. spearheaded the return of Brazilian cinema to international prominence in the latter half of the 1990s, particularly with his esteemed hit Central Station (1998). Born in Rio de Janeiro, the son of a well-heeled banker, Salles was raised in France and the United States before Brazil became his permanent home during his teens. Salles entered the Brazilian film industry as an award-winning documentary filmmaker during the industry’s 1980s/early-‘90s decline. After he moved to fiction with the thriller Exposure (1991), Salles’ feature career was stalled by Brazil’s disastrous economic freeze in the first half of the 1990s. Though he remained active by making documentaries for European television, Salles opted to stay in Brazil and made one of the first key films in the industry’s resurgence, Foreign Land (1995). Co-directed by Daniela Thomas, the internationally acclaimed Foreign Land addressed the fallout from Brazil’s economy through a mystery yarn set… read more
Remarkable film. We're a lucky bunch, those of us who were able to watch it. The title here is not really correct though, It's In Search of On the Road.