search

Be Here to Love Me

Impressive Clips and Interviews on Troubled Troubadour Genius Townes Van Zandt

Be Here to Love Me
"I'd like to write songs that are so good nobody understands them, including me," the Texan singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt remarks half-seriously in Margaret Brown's tender, impressionistic film biography, "Be Here to Love Me." The words evoke the shadowy images in many of the songs written by Van Zandt, a country-folk troubadour who died of a heart attack on Jan. 1, 1997, while recovering from a broken hip; he was 52.

Van Zandt's most famous song, "Pancho and Lefty," which Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard made into a No. 1 country hit in 1983, is typical: a visionary story of a drifter and an outlaw roaming through a mythic Old West landscape.

Stylistically, Van Zandt's songs dwell in the limbo between folk and country. The singer and songwriter he most closely resembled is Lyle Lovett, who appears briefly late in the film.

Director Margaret Brown has gathered an impressive array of clips from television interviews and live performances and arranged them into a rough chronology. Van Zandt's close friend Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson (musing about the sacrificial life of the artist), Jerry Jeff Walker, Steve Earle and Nelson are among those who pay him tribute.

His story, told in bits and pieces, is a mostly sad one of an unstable, unlucky man, the son of a wealthy Fort Worth oil executive, fending off demons. He was periodically addicted to alcohol and drugs. As a young man, his sister recalls, Van Zandt deliberately fell backward out of a fourth-story window "just to see what it felt like." That incident caused him to be put in a mental hospital, where he was given electric shock therapy that erased his childhood memories. He developed an obsession with the blues guitarist Lightnin' Hopkins, who became a major influence on his playing.

Near the end of his life, one of his admirers, Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth, collaborated with him on a recording that was never completed.

Here, as in so many other documentaries about troubled musicians, the word genius is casually tossed around. But does every unstable, self-destructive artist defiantly living on the edge qualify for that description? In Van Zandt's case, maybe yes. (S. Holden, NY Times)

Be Here to Love Me

Thu & Fri March 9 & 10, 2006, 7:00 & 9:15, Muenzinger Auditorium

USA, 2005, in English, 99 min • official site

recommend

Tickets

10 films for $60 with punch card
$9 general admission. $7 w/UCB student ID, $7 for senior citizens
$1 discount to anyone with a bike helmet
Free on your birthday! CU Cinema Studies students get in free.

Parking

Pay lot 360 (now only $1/hour!), across from the buffalo statue and next to the Duane Physics tower, is closest to Muenzinger. Free parking can be found after 5pm at the meters along Colorado Ave east of Folsom stadium and along University Ave west of Macky.

RTD Bus

Park elsewhere and catch the HOP to campus

International Film Series

(Originally called The University Film Commission)
Established 1941 by James Sandoe.

First Person Cinema

(Originally called The Experimental Cinema Group)
Established 1955 by Carla Selby, Gladney Oakley, Bruce Conner and Stan Brakhage.

C.U. Film Program

(AKA The Rocky Mountain Film Center)
First offered degrees in filmmaking and critical studies in 1989 under the guidance of Virgil Grillo.

Celebrating Stan

Created by Suranjan Ganguly in 2003.

C.U. Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Established 2017 by Chair Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz.

Thank you, sponsors!
Boulder International Film Festival
Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Looking for a gift for a friend?
Buy a Frequent Patron Punch Card for $60 at any IFS show. With the punch card you can see ten films (a value of $90).

Cover art for Spring 2 2022
Virtual titles to stream from home

Cox & Kjølseth
: Filmmaker Alex Cox & Pablo Kjølseth discuss film topics from their own unique perspectives.

Z-briefs
: Pablo and Ana share Zoom-based briefs on what's currently playing at IFS

Sprocket Damage
: Sprocket Damage digs deep(ish) into current and classic films and film-related subjects to bring to you insightful, humorous, and enlightening perspectives on the industry.

Search IFS schedules

Index of visiting artists