I think I can reveal now that an hour-long mobile phone call kept me from seeing “The Devil and Daniel Johnston” when it screened at SXSW back in March. I had missed the film at Sundance and was determined to see it in Austin, not to mention that a surprise was anticipated after the showing.
However, walking to the screening I got a call from a few figures involved with the behind-the-scenes IFP situation that was bubbling over and about to go public. And so began a nearly two week struggle to sort out what was going on with the split that we eventually reported on March 30 and March 31. Today here in Sheffield as I wrote a bit about the completion of the divorce between IFP and FIND (formerly IFP/Los Angeles) I coulnd’t help but think back to that day at SXSW. And tonight I finally saw “The Devil and Daniel Johnston”…
The film is terrific and during the the Q & A session tonight (which numerous people noted is John Peel day here in Britain) producer Henry S. Rosenthal recalled that afternoon back at SXSW, when the filmmakers decided to surprise Daniel Johnston with an on-stage appearance by his muse Laurie (pictured above in a photo by Brian Brooks). Johnston stormed out of the theater muttering that the woman was an imposter.
Offering the rest of the story tonight, Rosenthal explained that friends later found Johnston and he eventually came around and had an emotional reunion with the key figure in his life who he had not seen in two decades. Johnston later said, as Rosenthal explained tonight, that it was the best day of his life.