San Francisco's Lumiere theatre was packed with people on October 19 for the special appearance of Patti Smith and Steven Sebring as their documentary Patti Smith: Dream of Life was about to screen. In the film she says when someone asks me, "How does it feel to be a rock icon, it makes me think of Mt. Rushmore." That's the wit we're dealt by this poet-singer-artist as she talks about her life.
She travels to places across the globe including Rome, Jerusalem, the graves of Gregory Corso, Arthur Rimbaud, and William Blake. Some precious moments are of her with her family and of her feeding a cemetery cat.
She's gentle in person and ferocious on stage whether it be footage of her live performances or of her war protests. Every time her live performances were shown, my hair stood on end. This is the effect she has on me live.
Guest appearances in the film include Philip Glass, Thom Yorke, Michael Stipe, and Flea (the latter compare peeing in a bottle stories).
We get to watch her paint as she confesses that she always wants to touch the paintings in museums, especially de Kooning's. She talked about Pollack's inspiration from Picasso's Guernica and that the drip from the tooth of the tiger in that painting is where he found a technique that hadn't been done before.
She had just came in from Australia and was terribly jetlagged, but wanted to answer questions for us. Someone asked her about how she met Robert Mapplethorpe. She said that he was her boyfriend and that they had met at Pratt College in Brooklyn. They found a way to continue to work together and remain friends until he died.
In a request for her to talk about her late brother Todd, whom had died from a rheumatic heart, she proudly exclaimed, "Isn't he handsome?" She recalled the time she came off stage in 1978 and backstage were Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel and her brother Todd. They were all the same age and she said that we all knew who was the hottest guy in the room.
Filmmaker Steven Sebring said that there was more music in the film, but those scenes that included music on the radio that was too expensive to obtain the rights to, had to be cut. In no way did they plan the filming around having to obtain rights of books used in the film or music that was naturally playing in the background in cafes or other locations. They let the filming process be as natural as possible and then worried about copyright permissions later.
Afterwards, Smith was signing the book that was released to go along with the film.