Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune
DIRECTED BY - Kenneth Bowser
Documentary filmmaker Kenneth Bowser profiles American folk singer Phil Ochs, who rose to fame in the 1960s and whose hopeful, incisive ballads were written to inspire positive change in an era of profound social turbulence. Equally critical of the left and the right -- not to mention the politically apathetic -- Ochs penned countless songs and released seven albums, ultimately growing a sizable following thanks to his positive message and talent for songwriting. In 1976, following the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, and in the wake of the tragedy at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Ochs was so overcome with hopelessness that he turned to alcohol and ultimately committed suicide. He was just 35 years old. Though the FBI would later admit to singling Ochs out as a traitor for questioning American policy during wartime, this film aims to offer a comprehensive overview of a deeply complex artist through archival footage and interviews with such outspoken fans as Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, and Sean Penn.
RUNTIME - 97 minutes
RATING - Not Rated
YEAR - 2010
"[A]n unsentimental portrait of the ambitious singer...and an affecting elegy for a time when song was a form of revolution." -- Grade: A-
- Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
"The short and tragic life of Phil Ochs is as involving as the music he wrote and played, and that is saying a great deal....[A] thoughtful, probing documentary..."
- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times