Wednesday, August 6

“I have not come across anybody like her. Anywhere,” said Steven Sebring, director of Patti Smith: Dream of Life, a documentary about the angsty, aging rock goddess. “She travels around the world and does poetry readings, or does performances, or does art; she does lectures on William Blake. … I have become like the uncle to her children. When she lost her brother to a heart problem, just after [her husband] Fred died, I sort of filled his shoes, so we’re very close.” Not all his best footage made it, he explained; such as one scene when “Patti’s riding in the back seat of my car, and she’s singing to Ella Fitzgerald, who’s on my radio—it just happened to be on my radio in my old Lincoln—and I couldn’t use that footage because I couldn’t afford the rights to Ella Fitzgerald. … I don’t have millions of dollars to waste.” Speaking of wasting millions of dollars, Mr. Sebring pronounced himself dismayed with the sorry state of rock ’n’ roll: “I think America’s really safe. It’s about how much money they can make; it’s about who they’re afraid of pissing off or something. It’s so superficial. When there’s all this shit going down in the world, you would think that if you had this kind of forum in front of you, you should say something.”

[Patti Smith: Dream of Life, Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, 212-727-8110]

—Additional reporting by Sam Jewler and Lily Swistel

mbryan@observer.com

Wednesday, August 6