Renegade Dreamers, a timely new documentary by Karen Kramer, chronicles the artists of today carrying on the tradition of the Beat poets and radical folk singers of New York City’s legendary Greenwich Village who challenged the status quo.
Week-long theatrical release starts May 31 at Cinema Village
Renegade Dreamers, a new feature documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Karen Kramer (The Jolo Serpent Handlers, The Ballad of Greenwich Village), is a window into the New York spoken word poets and folk singers of today who use their art for social change, interwoven with the Beat poets and radical protest singers of the legendary Greenwich Village coffee house scene of the ‘60s that started it all. This timely film will enjoy a week-long theatrical release starting May 31 at Cinema Village, in the heart of the Village’s vibrant creative community.
Throughout New York City the air is filled with the sounds of subversive poetry, radical songwriting and calls for social change. From poetry slams and open mics to subway platforms, basements, cafes, street demonstrations and political rallies, young poets and protest singers are fighting to combat police brutality, corporate greed, racism, conformity and other issues of their times.
Where folk singer Woody Guthrie once sang out for union organizing, contemporary songwriter Gio Andollo from Washington Heights takes his mandolin to shopping centers where he confronts consumers with songs against clothing made in sweatshops. Where poet Allen Ginsberg once wrote poems that cried out for free speech, Bronx-born spoken word artist Saroya Marsh uses her words to fight for Black Lives Matter and social justice.
With appearances by Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Wavy Gravy, Joan Baez, Woody Guthrie, Maria Muldaur, Tom Paxton, the Weavers—and some of the best young artists you haven’t yet heard of—the film, both entertaining and informative, is loaded with protest, history and music. It couldn’t come at a more timely moment as the people are letting their voices be heard once again, emphasizing what it means to be a renegade and dreamer in America today.
“I’ve always been interested in those who step off the path prescribed for them, those who question authority and challenge the status quo,” said Karen Kramer, director of Renegade Dreamers. “I wanted to make a film that would honor the Beat generation of the past who started it all, as well as provide a window into the artists of today who are carrying on that tradition. They made me realize that in light of what’s going on in the country today—if not the world—it’s more important than ever to question authority.”
About Director Karen Kramer:
Karen Kramer has been a documentary filmmaker since 1978 when her groundbreaking film The Jolo Serpent Handlers, about a small snake handling church in Appalachia, was released to widespread acclaim. Since then she has independently produced a dozen other documentaries about rituals traditions, human rights and communities. These include award-winning films such as To Serve The Gods, Legacy of the Spirits, Haitian Song, Celebration, The Last of the New York Cigar Rollers, Days of Awe, Children of Shadows, The Ballad of Greenwich Village and several others.
Kramer's films have received wide distribution both domestically and internationally. They have been televised on NBC, Fox 5, WNET, The Oprah Show, CNN, WLIW and dozens of venues overseas. In addition to winning awards at festivals worldwide, they have been screened at such prestigious showcases as the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, the Field Museum and hundreds of others. More than 150 universities show her films on a continual basis. She has lectured and toured extensively with her work—from Europe to Africa to South America—and has appeared on dozens of radio programs.
The filmmaker has four times received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as awards from the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Council for the Humanities, the George Soros Foundation, UNICEF and many others. She lives in Greenwich Village, New York City.
Directed and Produced by Karen Kramer
Cinematography by Dan Drasin, Stephen Gladstone
Edited by David Petersen
Second Editors: Denise Dragiewicz, Kala Mandrake
Principal Archivist: Alexandra Singer
USA - 2019 - 71 mins - Color - DCP