Thirty years, three generations, and a lifetime later, award-winning filmmaker Ralph Arlyck returns to San Francisco in search of Sean, the boy who was the subject of his controversy-sparking 1969 documentary.
Following Sean" nominated for two Emmy Awards
Ralph Arlyck, has been nominated for two Emmy awards for his feature-length
film “Following Sean”. After a long festival and theatrical run, the film was broadcast on
the PBS series POV last summer and has been singled out by the National Academy of
Television Arts and Sciences.
“Following Sean” has been nominated for both Best Documentary and
Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing. The awards will be presented on
September 22 nd at a ceremony in Frederick P Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln
Center, in New York’s Time Warner Center.
FOLLOWING SEAN screened across the country theatrically and in Europe to
wide critical acclaim. It was broadcast on PBS, on Channel 4 in England and will be
aired in France and Germany in August. It was an official selection at Rotterdam, the
San Francisco International Film Festival, Munich, Vienna, Montreal, Full Frame,
Provincetown, Nantucket, and won a Special Jury Prize at the Hamptons International
Film Festival. The film was released theatrically by Shadow Distribution and Upstate
Films. It is distributed to the home video market by Docurama/New Video.
In 1969, student filmmaker Arlyck found himself living downstairs from a
crashpad full of hippies in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury. His candid first short film
about 4-year-old Sean, a precocious tot who says he smokes pot and hangs out with
speedfreaks, garnered many prizes —and sounded alarms—at the time. Young Sean,
a natural on camera, proves just as compelling three decades later when Arlyck finds
him as an adult.
This chronicle of growing up and moving on works as social comment and, in a
way, as suspense flick. Will Sean's alleged pothead past and freewheeling family
history catch up with his present-day reality as a struggling husband and father?
Seamlessly blending rare archival footage with vivid portraits of '60s survivors, and
exposing his own personal doubts and ruminations, Arlyck follows Sean on an epic
time-trip filled with moments of surprising tenderness and humor.
Film critic Gerald Peary, writing in the Boston Phoenix, said, This is the finest
film I've seen this year. As affecting as one of Chekhov's sobering tales.
The New York Times wrote: A tender and levelheaded rumination on the
legacy of the 60s and the mysteries of everyday life. FOLLOWING SEAN
opened in France in the fall and played for 15 weeks at the Espace St. Michel in Paris.
It was reviewed in almost every major French daily and weekly and was widely praised.
In London, The Guardian called it an intelligent, patient and elegant film.
Locally the film was shown as a work-in-progress at the Woodstock Film Festival
and played theatrically at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck. Executive producer and co-
distributor Steve Leiber of Upstate says, "We think the film is irresistible. It has the kind
of fascination that Michael Apted’s 28 UP! had for so many of us. FOLLOWING SEAN
takes us on an incredible personal journey over 30 years. It looks at life on two coasts,
in two families, over three generations. It's got everything – a great central character,
hippie parents, communist grandparents, but it's much more than one of those 60s
rehash movies. Ralph is a filmmaker of great power and sensitivity. We loved and
played his two earlier films that were in earlier New York Film Festivals, AN ACQUIRED
TASTE and CURRENT EVENTS.”