Reliving the Summer of Love with ‘Monterey Pop’ on the Big Screen

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Film crew for 'Monterey Pop' by D.A. Pennebaker, June 1967. From left, standing: Al Maysles, Roger Murphy, Richard Leacock, Bob Van Dyke, Tim Cunningham, Nina Schulman, Jim Desmond, John Cooke, Bob Neuwirth, Brice Marden, Nick Proferes, John Maddox. Kneeling: D.A. Pennebaker, Robert Leacock, Baird Hersey and Peter Hansen. Courtesy Pennebaker Associates Inc.

Monterey International Pop Festival kicked off the “Summer of Love” in June of 1967, highlighting the new era of rock ’n’ roll. The festival was jam packed all three days, hosting about 10,000 in total. It inspired a counterculture movement across the country to enact social change. Following his documentation of two tours with Bob Dylan, filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker was hired to film the music festival, where the likes of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding staged pivotal performances in their careers.

Sag Harbor Cinema continues its Pennebaker Hegedus Retrospective with “Monterey Pop,” running June 11 to 18. On Sunday, June 13, following the 6:45 p.m. screening, the cinema will host a conversation between Chris Hegedus, Pennebaker’s wife and filmmaking partner, and Robert Leacock, son of the film’s cinematographer, Richard Leacock, and onset sound and camera assistant.

xJanis Joplin performing in D.A. Pennebaker’s film “Monterey Pop.”

“After kicking off our retrospective with ‘Dont Look Back,’ showing ‘Monterey Pop’ almost in coincidence with the dates of the original festival seemed like a natural choice,” said Sag Harbor Cinema Artistic Director Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan. “Fifty years plus later, the force of that music and of Pennebaker’s filmmaking remain revolutionary.”

In his traditional cinéma vérité style, Pennebaker and his team, including Albert Masyles (“Gimme Shelter,” “Grey Gardens”) and Richard Leacock, captured the moments that would go down in history: Pete Townshend smashing his guitar and Jimi Hendrix burning his.

Pennebaker said of the experience: “I assumed that there would be some sort of arena for the show to take place in, but what we found was a kind of park for agricultural exhibitions. We were going to have to build our own stage and in fact build a whole festival layout.”

“A new era in popular music deserves a new era in filmmaking. That’s the basis of the perfect, fortuitous matchup between rock and cinema in D.A. Pennebaker’s ‘Monterey Pop’” wrote film critic Armon White. In the words of festival producer Lou Adler: “The Monterey International Pop Festival was, and still is, about the music and the artists who had breakthrough performances there, and how much impact they have had over these many years.

“It was the first major music festival. It wasn’t about the weather or traffic jams. It was and will always be about the music.”

Tickets for “Monterey Pop” are available at sagharborcinema.org. Sag Harbor Cinema is at 90 Main Street, Sag Harbor.

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