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Sara Driver’s Film of a Paul Bowles Story Rediscovered

posted November 12, 2010

Paul Bowles
The New York Times reports today (November 12, 2010) the rediscovery in Tangiers of You Are Not I, Sara Driver’s 1980 film version of the Paul Bowles short story of the same title.

The print, reports the Times’s Randy Kennedy, is of a film Driver based on a 1948 Bowles story about a young woman who escapes from an asylum. Driver, who has produced or played other roles in several of her husband Jim Jarmusch’s films, made You Are Not I on a shoestring budget, without seeking rights that in any case she could not afford. Before its 1983 premiere, she sent a copy of the 48-minute, black-and-white film to Bowles in Tangier, saying she hoped he wouldn’t sue her. Bowles soon granted her the rights.

The film’s cast included two friends of Driver’s who have since attained considerable cultural cachet, the writer Luc Sante and the photographer Nan Goldin. It gained cult status among the No Wave scene of the time, but all but one battered print–Driver thought–was lost in a New Jersey warehouse accident.

Enter University of Delaware librarian Francis Poole. Two years ago, he spoke at a conference in Tangier, and heard from Bowles’s longtime butler and heir (Bowles died in 1999) who showed him some of the writer’s last uncollected possessions. Those included the print that Driver had sent Bowles.

Now restored, it is housed with the University of Delaware’s collection of Bowles material. A digital copy was shown this fall (2010) in Reykjavik, Iceland and Lisbon, Portugal. Driver is seeking funds to produce a corrected negative and more prints of her film.

After making the Bowles film, Driver made the award-winning Sleepwalk (1986), then the similarly well-received When Pigs Fly (1993) which starred Marianne Faithfull and a score by Joe Strummer. She has also written and directed plays and experimental musicals in New York.

Kennedy’s article ends by raising the tantalizing question of whether anyone will ever turn up with Driver’s student short about Troilus and Cressida, spoken in Middle English.

Anyone?

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