By Kathy Harr
Camus said, "Yes, there is beauty and there are the humiliated. Whatever the difficulties the enterprise may present, I would like never to be unfaithful either to one or the other."
That describes the folksinger-songwriter Phil Ochs as seen in Kenneth Bowser's new documentary, Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune. Bowser, who is married to actress Amy Irving and has also made a films about Saturday Night Live, Preston Sturges andFrank Capra, is probably best known for making the film based on Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. His next project may be one based on another Biskind best-seller, Down & Dirty Pictures.
There But for Fortune, which is slowly releasing nationally, including San Francisco'sBalboa Theater this weekend, was called a “A complex portrait of an ultimately unknowable man,” by Peter Rainer http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Movies/2011/0107/Phil-Ochs-There-But-for-Fortune-movie-review. “At once an unsentimental portrait of the ambitious singer who thought himself bound for glory, and an affecting elegy for a time when song was a form of revolution,” wrote Lisa Schwarzbaum. Bowser was kind enough to chat with me about art and truth, yesterday's failures and today's wars, and what was left on the cutting-room floor.