The Ballad of Greenwich Village

2005, 70 mins.

The Ballad of Greenwich Village

The story of the artists, rebels, and bohemians who came to New York’s Greenwich Village over many decades, and changed the face of American culture through their art and politics.

The film portrays important political and social movements that started in the Village - such as the first interracial jazz club, the earliest Socialist newspapers from before World War I, and the Stonewall rebellion that sparked gay liberation.

THE BALLAD OF GREENWICH VILLAGE also interweaves on-camera stories from well-known celebrities who got their start in Greenwich Village. Actor Tim Robbins speaks about growing up in the Village and going to early protest rallies. Beat poet Allen Ginsberg shows us the coffee house where he first read poetry. Playwright Edward Albee relates stories of how his controversial plays found a venue here. Other stories are told by poet Maya Angelou, author Norman Mailer, director Woody Allen, jazz drummer Roy Haynes, and folk singers Peter, Paul, & Mary, Judy Collins, and Richie Havens - as well as local Village painters, drag queens, activists, and club owners. Actress Lili Taylor is the narrator.

Interweaving past and present, and combining 16mm footage, archival photographs, Hollywood movies, cartoons, stories from people living and dead, famous and obscure – and with a soundtrack ranging from ragtime to bebop to folk music – the film is a celebration of what was America’s true bohemia.

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