Congratulations, mazel tov and big ups to our pal Keven McAlester, the Dallas boy who today was nominated in the Best Documentary category at the Spirit Awards, the indie film world's version of the Academy Awards. Keven got the nod for his tremendous doc about troubled singer-songwriter Roky Erickson, You're Gonna Miss Me, which had its debut at the South by Southwest Film Festival in 2005 and still has yet pick up wide distribution. (Surely, that has to change after today, dunnit?)
Also nominated in the documentary category with Keven -- the former music editor at something called the Met and the guy I begged to replace me when I left New Times Los Angeles in 1997 -- are The Road to Guantanamo (by Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross), A Lion in the House (from Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert), My Country, My Country (by Laura Poitras) and The Trials of Darryl Hunt (from Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern).
This is what the Spirit nominating committe has to say about Keven's movie:
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"A look at the life of Roger Kynard "Roky" Erickson, a rock-and-roll pioneer whose adventures with LSD, shock treatment, and the Texas police have made him one of rock's most legendarily tragic figures. You're Gonna Miss Me also portrays a parallel, complicated portrait of a crumbling family whose most talented member -- now living in unmedicated squalor -- has become the blank screen onto which those closest to him project their reimagined pasts and hopeful futures."
Could not have said it better. Actually, I could have, but why bother now. It took Keven years to make the Roky movie; he all but quit writing, a job at which he's pretty damned good, to spend forever shooting, editing, re-editing and re-re-editing You're Gonna Miss Me to get it just right, and he did even better than that.
I'll never forget the first time I saw it: At SXSW, Keven brought a videotape to my hotel room and screened it for one of the very first times. I was knocked out by the movie; it's a heartbreaking tale of wasted greatness, a broken family and hopeful redemption. After it ended, after the damaged Roky was made more or less whole by movie's end, there was a knock at the door. It was Roky, come to see the movie himself for the first time. --Robert Wilonsky