Watch the brand new interview clip with the legendary Dr. John here
Principal Cast: Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, Charles Neville, Douglas Brinkley, Harry Connick, Jr., Hugh Laurie
Directed by: Lily Keber
Produced By: Lily Keber, Nathaniel Kohn, Stephen Rose, Mark Sperling
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Watch a new excerpt here
Watch the trailer here
First ever DVD release out August 26th 2016 via Cadiz music.
“Booker was an openly gay heroin addict and alcoholic who suffered periods of depression, schizophrenia and mania, resulting in a life of sober highs and crippling lows where he spent time in prison and mental health facilities. However, while these elements contributed to his legend, Keber’s film illustrates that they pale in comparison to his charm, wit and brilliance. His prodigious talent was recognized early. He played with Aretha Franklin, Fats Domino, Wilson Picket, Dizzy Gillespie, Ringo Starr and Jerry Garcia, to name a few.” The Wire
Bayou Maharajah explores the life, times and music of piano legend James Booker, who Dr. John described as “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.”
This roller coaster portrait traces Booker’s life from his early years as a chart-topping child prodigy, to his star-studded years touring and playing as a sideman, through his outrageous solo career in America and Europe. First-person narrators lead the viewer through Booker’s unbelievable onstage performances, occasionally in his underwear, dishing out drug-fueled conspiracy theories. Featuring interviews with the likes of Harry Connick Jr., Dr. John, Irma Thomas and Allen Toussaint, together with a generous helping of archival footage, the film brings to life the unforgettable story of this amazing musician.
Bayou Maharajah has already won a series of awards, including Best Southern Film (Oxford American), Best Louisiana Feature (New Orleans Film Festival), Jury Mention (New Orleans Film Festival), Grand Jury Prize (Fairhope Film Festival) and a Paramount Award (Asbury Park Music in Film Festival).
Sold out worldwide screenings include South By South West (Texas) Film Society at Lincoln Center (NYC), Outfest and Don’t Knock The Rock (Los Angeles), Melbourne International Film Festival, Barbican Centre and Hackney Picturehouse (London), Noise Pop Festival (San Francisco), Le Comptoir Général (Paris), Ponente International Film Festival (Rome), St. Louis Film Festival and Milwaukee Film Festival.
“This winning doc features a can’t-miss subject and plenty of performance footage. A must-see for aficionados of New Orleans jazz, it’s also accessible to viewers who don’t know a Professor Longhair from a Dr. John.” Hollywood Reporter
“At once an outsider’s outsider and an insider’s insider, Booker lived life as if it were meant for lore.” Wall St Journal
“Ecstatic, sorrowful, beautiful, pained, full of anger, joy and something otherworldly.” Austin American-Statesman
“Bayou Maharajah is a wonderful documentary – essential viewing for anyone who cares about James Booker, the city of New Orleans, music, people, life, love, art or death.” Hugh Laurie
“James Booker is the best musician of the 20th century.” Harry Connick Jr.
· Selected for Independent Film Project’s 2012 Spotlight on Documentary
· Selected Project for Kopkind Colony’s 2011 Filmmaking Retreat. Co-sponsored by the Center for Independent Documentary
Lily Keber is a documentary director, producer and educator based in New Orleans. Her first film Hutto: America’s Family Prison was used nationally to stem the Department of Homeland Security’s policy of family detention. In 2008, she co-founded New Orleans Video Voices, a women-led media collective dedicated to expanding media literacy across the Gulf Coast. She is currently in production on her second feature Buckjumping (working title), an examination of the soul of New Orleans through the lens of its most vernacular cultural output: dance. Lily organizes a monthly meeting of documentary filmmakers in New Orleans, is on the board of the Patois Human Rights Film Festival, a member of WIFT-Louisiana and an active participant in Film Fatales New Orleans. Her work has appeared on Time, Inc., Democracy Now! and Al Jazeera.
Publicity photo courtesy of Anton Corbijn