A Sad Flower in the Sand

an impressionistic biography of cult writer John Fante, author of Ask the Dust, to premiere on PBS, Tuesday, December 12, at 10pm (check local listings)

Film airs in conjunction with Independent Lens’s month-long salute to writers and artists

Visit the program companion website 
(San Francisco, CA)—“Fante was my God,” said Charles Bukowski. But the author of what are now considered some of the finest novels of his time was largely ignored during his lifetime; Fante was a bitter renegade who spent his non-writing hours drinking, gambling, and toiling miserably as a Hollywood screenwriter for hire. A SAD FLOWER IN THE SAND (a line taken from Ask the Dust) examines Fante’s art and life through interviews with those who knew him best—writer/director Robert Towne (Chinatown), his biographer Stephen Cooper, his wife Joyce and sons, Jim and Dan Fante. 

The film is also a hypnotic tour through Fante’s Los Angeles, combining old and new footage of the streets, hotels, and gin joints that were his home and his inspiration. A SAD FLOWER IN THE SAND airs as part of Independent Lens’s month-long salute to Writers and Artists that also includes REVOLUCION: Five Visions (December 19), about Cuban photographers, and SHORT STACK 2006, our annual salute to the art of short filmmaking (December 26). Independent Lens is hosted by Terrence Howard. 

“The revival of John Fante testifies to his timeless talent…He was a man who described the dim light of the American dream in Hollywood and wrote about it vividly and enduringly.” – Gay Talese 

Born in Denver in 1909, Fante grew up in a working class Italian American family that was plagued by prejudice and poverty. At 21, he struck out for the City of Angels and wrote the autobiographical novels The Road to Los Angeles, Dreams from Bunker Hill and his most acclaimed work, Ask the Dust, capturing the rhythms of Los Angeles life in prose that spans the gap between the spare style of Hemingway and the gritty urban dialect of the Beats. A SAD FLOWER IN THE SAND is a much-overdue look at Fante and his writing, which continues to enthrall readers around the world. 

The interactive companion website for A SAD FLOWER IN THE SAND (pbs.org/sadflowerinthesand) features detailed information on the film, including an interview with the filmmaker and links and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film, and more. About the Filmmaker Jan Louter (Director) is a Dutch filmmaker currently based in France. His many Dutch television productions include The Silbertanne Murders, The Debutantes, Jean Rhys: They Destroyed All the Roses, The Next Dance and more. 

Mary Lugo, 770/623-8190, lugo@negia.net
Cara White, 843/881-1480, cara.white@mac.com

Posted on October 27, 2006