Jack Kerouac’s America

Institute History

  • 1985 Sundance Film Festival


Carefully blended bits and pieces create a probing look at Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac. The film combines dramatizations of key portions of Kerouac’s life with footage of the author himself and the people who knew him. The mythic proportions of the “Kerouac legend: have never before been explored with such depth and sensitivity. The film is more than worth your while even if you’re only vaguely aware of Kerouac; if you’re a Kerouac fan, it’s a must.

As a cultural phenomenon, the Beats came and went in the 50’s well before the hippies grabbed the media spotlight. When asked what word might describe the Beats, Kerouac thoughtfully replied “Sympathetic.” Their influence on an entire generation lives on, as do many of the survivors of that era who knew Kerouac, who died from drink in 1969 at the age of 47.

Kerouac’s most famous book, On The Road (said to have been written in three weeks while he was on Benzedrine), became the Bible of the Beat Generation and is often compared with “Huckleberry Finn” in the pantheon of American literature. This docu-drama revives those days on the road, enabling us to catch the vibes, the energy, the almost naive exultation of all that is American.

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]