hunter-s-thompson-liebowitzAs the chatter around the the Hunter S. Thompson mural reveal in Louisville grows, events surrounding the event, GonzoFest, grow as well.

Local Louisville poet Ron Whitehead tells Insider that Sony Pictures announced they will debut the documentary “For No Good Reason” at the Louisville Palace Theatre on April 4, during GonzoFest 2014, weeks before its national release.

The documentary, hosted by Kentucky native Johnny Depp, focuses on the life of “maverick” British artist Ralph Steadman. Steadman’s lifelong friendship with Hunter S. Thompson, and frequent work with Rolling Stone magazine, brought him to national fame.

The two met in Louisville, as is documented in Thompson’s story “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved.”

The Steadman documentary opens with Johnny Depp paying a visit to Steadman, known as the “most important radical British artist of modern times,” to discuss Steadman’s artistic journey that began in the 1970’s.

From working on “Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas” with Thompson, to gun battles with William S. Burroughs as they shoot his artwork to hell, Steadman’s life was one astounding event after another.

As Jann Wenner, founder of Rolling Stone and long-time Thompson editor says of Steadman, “Ralph was ready to go to extremes Hunter was not willing. Hunter realized that Ralph was crazier than him.”

Steadman’s art is politically charged with much social commentary. It’s often described as angry; the anger and hate of social injustice spew onto the page.

Director Charlie Paul spent over fifteen years compiling the art and stories for this film, and according to reviewers, the film works.

Writer Phil Brown wrote for Collider:

As the film wears on and Steadman runs out of anecdotes to tell or techniques to share, he starts to open up about his neurosis, beliefs, and feelings. He emerges as a fascinating, kind, and complex person, not just Hunter S. Thompson’s most talented drinking buddy.

Stephen Dalton at the New York Post wrote:

Punctuated with animated sequences, starry cameos, archive footage and artfully assembled split-screen collages, the film scores highly as an immersive and engaging visual experience, beautifully shot and fluidly edited.

The film was released for only one week in New York and California for awards considerations and will be released on a limited national level April 25.

The Louisville premiere will be the first showing outside the awards viewing season.

The film was chosen as a Toronto Film Festival selection and was the recipient of the Richard Leacock Award at the Biografilm Festival and was a BFI London Film Festival Grierson Award Nominee. Three of the original songs have made the in-progress “long list” of possible Oscar nominations.

The original music for the film was created by Slash, Jason Mraz, All American Rejects, James Blake and more. The film features footage and interviews with Ralph Steadman, Johnny Depp, Hunter S. Thompson, Terry Gilliam, Richard E Grant, William S. Burroughs and Jann Wenner.

The mural to be revealed the April 4 weekend in downtown Louisville, as Whitehead told Insider, was drawn by Ralph Steadman. Steadman offered over a dozen of his drawings of Thompson to a team of seven. The Steadman piece, which won’t be revealed until the mural is revealed, was chosen by the team putting GonzoFest together including Whitehead and Dennie Humphrey, owner of Monkey Wrench and co-founder of GonzoFest.

Jason Sitzes
Jason Sitzes is a freelance writer/editor living in Austin via Louisville, New Orleans, Knoxville and his home town of Columbus, Ind. He’s published short stories; written for many publications including, locally, LEO; travels around the nation with various writing workshops; and is addicted to college basketball.