Ain’t in It for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm
Autumn 2013 Documentary series
Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at 7:00pm
Directed by Jacob Hatley
Starring Levon Helm, Billy Bob Thornton, and Larry Campbell
Rated 14A ·
Ain’t In It For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm
Starting with the image of a tour bus warming its engine in the stillness of an empty lot, this haunting, personal portrait of music legend Levon Helm evokes the mood of a lifetime spent on the road. Jacob Hatley’s extraordinarily intimate documentary finds Helm, a founding member of The Band, at home in Woodstock in the midst of creating his first studio album in 25 years. The ultimate survivor, he has overcome drugs, bankruptcy, the bitter breakup of The Band and a bout of throat cancer —but then, as the rueful title indicates, he wasn’t in it for his health.
Shot during the course of two-plus years, this highly anticipated film focuses in on the four-time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member after his 2007 comeback album, Dirt Farmer, brought him back to the spotlight.
“This is one of the most fully rounded, unsentimental portraits of an artist you’ll ever see on film. You get Helm talking joyfully about growing up in Arkansas, where the space under the porch was his ‘own little farm’ and the family put rings in the hogs’ noses so they wouldn’t root under the house. We see the adult drummer, white and frightened, as his doctor checks his (barely) cancer-free vocal chords; we see the feisty sumbitch who doesn’t give a damn about his Lifetime Achievement Grammy and claims ‘it was pretty much over’ for The Band after their classic second record, The Band. Then there’s the music…” (Peter Gerstenzang, Village Voice)
“The portrait of the ailing artist is bittersweet, but when Helms sings or plays, the look on his face is pure joy.” (Liam Lace, The Globe and Mail)