Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart

Institute History

  • 1998 Sundance Film Festival


There are only a few icons of rock and roll whom one might choose to designate as significant artists, but as Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart so emphatically underscores, Reed is hardly your typical rock-and-roll musician. Produced as part of the outstanding “American Masters” series for public television, Lou Reed is as much an engrossing portrait of the man as it is a walk through the turbulent and fascinating times which shaped his music. The critical accolade “seminal” is applied all too frequently to artists who really don’t deserve it, but when referring to Reed, it almost seems like understatement. David Bowie, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, REM, and U2 are some of the most esteemed artists in contemporary music over the last two decades and are distinctly different. Yet all would credit Reed as a formative influence. The Velvet Underground, Reed’s first band, is regarded almost mythically today, and filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders greatly enhances our understanding as to why that’s the case.

Utilizing archival film, still photographs, interviews, and original footage of Reed at concerts and readings around the world, Greenfield-Sanders transcends the limitations of biopic glorification. Instead he offers what is sometimes a very personal, and at others an objective perspective on a complicated and very eclectic artist. With an absolutely stellar list of interviewees, including fellow artists, critics, and various poets, novelists, and personalities from the past, Lou Reed is an exceptional documentary account of one of today’s major creative figures.

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Director
Timothy Greenfield-Sanders was born in Florida in 1952 and received his BA in art history from Columbia University, and his MFA from the American Film Institute, where he studied under Jan Kadar. He began his career as a portrait photographer. His portraits are in numerous collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum, the Whitney Museum, and the National Portrait Gallery. His work can be seen in magazines worldwide, including Vanity Fair, Life, and The New York Times Sunday Magazine.

Screening Details

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