Alan Govenar’s beautifully rendered meditation, Down in Dallas Town (From JFK to KS)2 takes us to the shifting perceptions of public memory sixty years after the murder of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Through interviews with people on the street and songs recorded to memorialize JFK in the mid-1960s, the film explores the impact of the assassination on issues in today’s world, from lingering conspiracy theories to the proliferation of gun violence, homelessness, and the scourge of K2. Personal narratives are juxtaposed with the sentiments articulated in blues, gospel, norteño, and calypso recordings to haunting affect. Especially poignant is the account of Mary Ann Moorman, who returns to the assassination site fifty years later and details the making of her Polaroid photograph of the fatal head shot that killed JFK as the motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza. This resonant new film by Alan Govenar confronts ways we come to terms with the past through the power of storytelling, image-making, and a songbook that is largely unknown. Award winning filmmaker Alan Govenar (The Beat Hotel, Tattoo Uprising) joins us to talk about how the Kennedy legend continues to hold sway over people born long after his traumatizing public execution, the power of song in framing the Kennedy legacy, getting Mary Ann Moorman to participate in the making of this film and the impact of poverty and homelessness on the social fabric of a fraying society wracked by violence.
About the filmmaker – Alan Govenar is an award-winning writer, poet, playwright, photographer, and filmmaker. He is director of Documentary Arts, a non-profit organization he founded to advance essential perspectives on historical issues and diverse cultures. Govenar is a Guggenheim Fellow and the author of more than thirty books, including Boccaccio in the Berkshires, Paradise in the Smallest Thing, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Untold Glory, Texas Blues, Stompin’ at the Savoy, Everyday Music, Texas in Paris, and A Pillow on the Ocean of Time. His book Osceola: Memories of a Sharecropper’s Daughter won First Place in the New York Book Festival (Children’s Non-Fiction), a Boston Globe-Hornbook Honor; and an Orbis Pictus Honor from the National Council of Teachers of English. Govenar’s film, Stoney Knows How, based on his book by the same title about Old School tattoo artist Leonard St. Clair, was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and was selected as an Outstanding Film of the Year by the London Film Festival. His documentaries The Beat Hotel, Master Qi and the Monkey King, You Don’t Need Feet to Dance, Tattoo Uprising, Extraordinary Ordinary People, Myth of a Colorblind France and Looking for Home are distributed by First Run Features. Govenar’s theatrical works include the musicals Blind Lemon: Prince of Country Blues, Blind Lemon Blues, Lonesome Blues (with Akin Babatundé), Texas in Paris, and Stompin’ at the Savoy.
“Beautifully crafted with sensitivity and intelligence, it takes us beyond the images of 11/22/63 that have become so familiar that they have lost their initial power.” – Andrea Chase, Killer Movie Reviews
“Down in Dallas Town is an illuminating documentary that delves into the memory of Kennedy, the art of photography and music, the struggles of homelessness, and the prevalence of gun violence.” – Andrew Stover, Film Threat