Filmography: _Documentary: _Let it Come Down: _Notes on the Cast

Let it Come Down:
The Life of Paul Bowles

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Feature Documentary



72 minutes

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Mongrel Media [Can.]

Zeitgeist Films [USA]

William Burroughs' friendship with Paul Bowles dates back over forty years. They met when Burroughs lived in Tangier in the 1950's. He died in August, 1997.

Allen Ginsberg met Bowles when he travelled to Tangier to see William Burroughs and help transform Naked Lunch from a pile of pages, which were strewn all over the floor of Burroughs's filthy hotel room, into a manuscript. He died in April, 1997.

The Hon. David Herbert is second son of the fifteenth Earl and Countess of Pembroke. He first came to Tangier in 1932 with Cecil Beaton and remained there until his death in 1995. The quintessential expatriate, he was Tangier's pre-eminent host and unofficial social arbiter for over 50 years. He was very close to Jane Bowles, and always claimed that if Paul died, he would marry her.

Mohammed Choukri is a Moroccan writer who was illiterate until the age of twenty. His most famous book, For Bread Alone, which was translated by Paul Bowles, won him instant notoriety as it described in graphic detail a childhood on the streets of Tangier: the International Days, so celebrated by foreigners, from the indigent Moroccan point of view. He now claims that Bowles is an exploiter of Moroccan culture and knows very little about it, despite his years there.

Paul Bowles discovered the prodigious storytelling talents of Mohammed Mrabet in Tangier in 1965. Since then they have collaborated on over ten books. Mrabet tells Bowles the story in Dharisian (the local Moroccan dialect), which is also recorded into a tape recorder. Bowles then transcribes and translates. Although they have not worked together in twelve years, they had a rare visit during our 1994 shoot in which Mrabet made up a story on the spot that Bowles simultaneously translated; the result is unprecedented and compelling footage of them working together.

Phillip Ramey is an American composer and friend of Paul Bowles; from 1977 to 1993 he was the annotator and program editor of the New York Philharmonic. He has been greatly instrumental in reviving interest in Paul Bowles' work as a composer. He lives in New York City, but spends half of each year in Tangier.

Ned Rorem is a composer and music critic who has known Bowles since 1940. He was a frequent and notorious visitor to Tangier during its wild International Days. He lives in New York City.

Jane Bowles met and fell in love with Amina Bakalia (Cherifa), an illiterate peasant girl selling grain in the Tangier market, in 1948. She spent the next 20 years with her, trying to win her affections. Cherifa’s reputation is as a forbidding and sinister figure who practiced black magic on Jane and Paul and eventually poisoned Jane to death. Here, in her first and only appearance on film, she tries to set the record straight.

Jonathan Sheffer is the conductor and Artistic Director of the Eos Orchestra, which held the festival of Paul Bowles' music at Lincoln Center in September, 1995.

Joseph McPhillips III is headmaster of the American School of Tangier. He travelled to Morocco in the early 1960s and has lived there ever since. A long-time friend of Paul and Jane Bowles, he has also commissioned theatre scores from Paul Bowles for performances at the American School, including productions of "Oedipus the King" and "Caligula."

Marguerite McBey is a wealthy expatriate painter who has lived in Tangier since the 1930's. Considered Tangier "royalty", she became a lesbian after her husband died. She has painted portraits of both Paul and Jane Bowles.

Tom McCamus is a celebrated stage and screen actor. He won a Genie Award for Best Actor for David Wellington's I Love a Man in Uniform and a Best Actor nomination for his role-- reprised from the Stratford Festival-- in Long Day's Journey Into Night. He also won a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role in Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter. He has spent many seasons at the Shaw Festival and the Stratford Festival, in numerous notable roles.