Long Strange Trip

Director: Amir Bar-Lev

Institute History

  • 2017 Sundance Film Festival


Emerging from the Bay Area’s vibrant 1960s counterculture, the Grateful Dead were a motley crew whose unique sound sprang from an eclectic blend of influences: bluegrass, folk ballads, R&B, free-form jazz, classical, and jug band. Put to the Acid Tests, they passed with flying colors, becoming one of rock and roll’s most unlikely success stories.

A band, an experience, a quasi religion, they were also a family—albeit a dysfunctional one. Through their unworldly musical connection they formed a “group mind,” one they shared with their enthusiastic tribe of fans throughout three decades of legendary concerts-cum-spiritual experiences.

Psychedelics aside, the Dead’s quintessential character is hard to place, but that’s exactly what Amir Bar-Lev explores in this passionate, all-encompassing look at the creative spirit behind the “band beyond description.” Drawing from an incredible trove of stills, film footage, audio recordings, and rare live tracks—much of which has never been seen or heard—Bar-Lev’s fresh, formally inventive approach paints the picture of a distinctly American band exploring visions of Americana through music.

— John Nein

Screening Details

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