Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton

USA, 2013, 82 Minute Running Time

The world scandalized James Broughton, a sartorial-minded pre-Beat filmmaker and poet, so he, in turn, scandalized it. In "Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton", directors Eric Slade and Stephen Silha detail Broughton’s courage and impertinence in rejecting the hetero-normative life of the ‘50s onward with its emphasis on frenetic consumerism and careerism.

He embraced the avant-garde movement of the early 20th century by erasing the boundaries between poetry and cinema, thereby creating a new aesthetic in film. Slade and Silha capture the many personalities – like Pauline Kael, doyenne of the arts, with whom he had a child, and Anna Halprin, dancer and choreographer – that orbited Broughton throughout his life.

Broughton’s performative films heavily influenced the "happenings" of the 1960s and, later, the gay liberation movement of the 1970s. Their common denominator is the interplay of humor, play, and the id imbued with a theatrical dimension. His 1967 effervescent film The Bed is a landmark for its exploration of sexuality in all its forms. Broughton erased the division between life and art, philosophy and practice, poetry and cinema, creating a new idiom that defied categorization.

DIRECTORS: Dawn Logsdon, Stephen Silha, Eric Slade
Producer: Max St. Romain
Editor: Dawn Logsdon, Kyung Lee
Cinematographer: Ian Hinkle, Art Adams
Music: Evan Schiller, Jami Sieber
Principal Cast: Anna Halprin, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Armistead Maupin, George Kuchar, Jack Foley, Alex Gildzen, Keith Hennessy, Joel Singer

  • BIG JOY: The Adventures of James Broughton

    1h 22m — 1 subtitle

    A chronicle of the iconoclastic life of pansexual poet, filmmaker and spiritual visionary James Broughton, one of the defining voices of the sexual revolution, whose groundbreaking artistic celebrations of sexuality and the body influenced generations to profoundly embrace life and "follow your o...

  • Big Joy theatrical trailer

    2m 28s

  • Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton

    2 videos

    USA, 2013, 82 Minute Running Time

    The world scandalized James Broughton, a sartorial-minded pre-Beat filmmaker and poet, so he, in turn, scandalized it. In "Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton", directors Eric Slade and Stephen Silha detail Broughton’s courage and impertinence in reject...

  • The Bed (1968) by James Broughton

    2 videos

    James Broughton's most famous film, "The Bed." One that featured the ground-breaking full-frontal (yet innocent) nudity that this experimental filmmaker was known for. In part because of its audacity and courage in portraying bodies, "The Bed" became an instant hit all over the West Coast, recei...

  • The Golden Positions (1970)

    2 videos

    A series of naked tableaux vivants that glorify the human body.

    In his book Making Light of It James Broughton wrote, "Naked human bodies in movement have always entranced me. In attempting a pseudo-documentary of undressed humanity I took inspiration from the pioneer studies of Edward Muybrid...