This DVD is out of print, and no longer available.
BENJAMIN SMOKE is the highly acclaimed documentary by directors Jem Cohen (FUGAZI: INSTRUMENT) and Peter Sillen (SPEED RACER) on legendary underground musician Benjamin. BENJAMIN SMOKE follows the crooked path of this fringe-dweller, speed-freak, occasional drag-queen and all-around renegade living in the hidden Atlanta neighborhood called "Cabbagetown," and playing with his band Smoke. This moving, heart-breaking and often funny portrait premiered at the 2001 Berlin Film Festival, won the First Prize Juror's Award at the 2001 Doubletake Documentary Film Festival and had a national theatrical release by Cowboy Pictures, garnering acclaim from critics throughout the country. The DVD edition includes over forty minutes of outtakes and interviews with Benjamin, bonus live footage of Smoke, and performances of unreleased tribute songs by Cat Power and Vic Chesnutt.
BENJAMIN SMOKE is a hauntingly beautiful yet unflinching look at a performer whose life has had a profound effect on many artists, including R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, Cat Power's Chan Marshall and Patti Smith, who appears in the film. The DVD extras include two moving performances of songs written for Benjamin by Cat Power and Vic Chesnutt.
Over a decade in the making, the film traces Benjamin's life from his childhood, to his work with Smoke and previous band the Opal Foxx Quartet, to living with HIV. But BENJAMIN SMOKE is not a traditional music documentary; it is an intricate collage of inteviews, live performances, and time-lapse cinematography, all intercut with still photographs by award-winning photographer Michael Ackerman. What results is an open window into Benjamin's relationship with drugs, music, friends, lovers and the world around him, a little-known and rapidly disappearing pocket of the American South. Above all, BENJAMIN SMOKE is an extension of the performer and his music and a portrait of a true American original.
"A film as ethereal, moving and uncompromising as its subject." - Amy Taubin, The Village Voice
"A haunting portrait of a lyricist-singer who is the very embodiment of the famous observation that burning the candle at both ends produces such a lovely light." - Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
BENJAMIN SMOKE (2001) was co-directed by Jem Cohen and Peter Sillen. INSTRUMENT, Jem's 1999 documentary about the band Fugazi, was included in the 2000 Whitney Biennial, and his LOST BOOK FOUND was broadcast by PBS, the BBC, and Planete. Peter Sillen's 1994 documentary, SPEED RACER: WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF VIC CHESNUTT, was nominated for the International Documentary Association Distinguished Achievement Award.