33. Sydney Film Festival, June 1986


American Rebel


Production company: Ohio River Films. Producer: Will Roberts, in collaboration with Dean Reed. Photography: Hiernan Correa, Michael Gregor, Vladimir Gusev, Josh Hanig, Dieter Mesa, Bob Moore, Igor Muravyev, Juan Priego. Sound: Akif Abdulayev, Steve Budde, Susan Chong, John Denis, Werner Laube, Will Roberts, Moises Rodriguez, Dieter Silbernagel, Boris Veliulov. Editor: Brian Cotnoir, Narration: Will Roberts, Ellen Wood. Color. 95 minutes. Languages: English, Russian, German, Spanish with English subtitles.
Festival: Denver.

A fascinating, controversial documentary on one of Eastern Europe's most popular singer-filmstars. Dean Reed, Denver-born, former US chart-topper, but now virtually unknown in his own country. Says Roberts: "In 1979, I had been invited to the Moscow International Film Festival. And I was walking through Red Square with my Russian interpreter when we saw this man mobbed by hundreds of people for his autographs. That's an unusual sight in the Soviet Union because not even Elizabeth Taylor is mobbed. No Western stars are mobbed." The subject of attention was Reed, and the scene prompted Roberts - who had never heard of Reed before - to make his film. He traces Reed's life from boyhood all-American singing and athletic star, through modest success as a pop singer in the late 50s and early 60s, and his first experiences of poverty and repression during a Latin American tour. Reed's political ideas henceforth took a dramatic turn to the left, to the point where he eventually chose to live in the East. The film contains a wealth of archival footage of Reed doing for Yassir Arafat, Sandinistas and Chilean students. Also appearing are Reed's conservative father, lifelong friend Phil Everly (who in one scene teams up with Reed in a rendition of "Bye, Bye, Love" on an Eastern-bloc stage), and his American acting teacher and mentor. Apart from its obvious value as a study of a globe-trotting apostle of socialism - and a north American "turn-coat" to boot - the film is also interesting in the self-consciously cautious way it adresses an American audience on a subject which some there might call treason. This approach is also evident in the squeaky-clear way in which Reed projects himself in an extended interview, using a style and manner more appropriate to American television audiences of somewhat earlier times. This caution - and the squeaky-clear image projected by Reed in an extended interview in the film - weren't without good reason, however: returning home to attend the film's premiere at the Denver Film Festival, Reed found himself the subject of charges of treason on a local radio station.

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Letzte Änderung: 2012-09-28