Patti Smith Halts Display Of Biographical Documentary

Punk-poet is said to be unhappy with some of the early footage in the film.

There is one possibility that the French producers of the documentary "Patti Smith: The Sea of Possibilities" might be forced to forego -- that the film will ever find its way to the silver screen in the States.

The management company for punk legend Patti Smith is denying requests by the Paris-based Morgane Productions to screen the film in the U.S. The documentary includes footage of the rock poet in her early New York days, which angered Smith, said a spokesman at her label, Arista, on Tuesday (Sept. 8).

"They took a lot of footage from other things and made it something that she didn't expect and hadn't been cleared with her," said the spokesman, who preferred to remain anonymous. "They used a lot of archive footage from other places and made a whole thing out of it, when we weren't even aware they were using it until it was already done."

"Patti Smith: The Sea of Possibilities" includes a recent interview with Smith but also features archive footage drawn from various other sources, Smith's spokesman said. He would not divulge details of the footage, but said that it explores how her relationships and "basically her whole life" are intertwined with her music.

Producers originally intended a one-time only airing of the 50-minute film. But after the film was shown on public television in France, Morgane Productions sought permission to air it again and to screen it at festivals in the U.S. and Europe.

Last month, Morgane asked permission to screen the documentary at an art festival in San Francisco to correspond with Smith's concerts in the city. The company subsequently withdrew the film per Smith's request.

"They obviously don't want to do anything to destroy their relationship with Patti," the Smith spokesman said. "They have a good relationship with her; it's just that she doesn't want it to be shown anymore."

Smith's spokesman said Smith is not available to comment, because she is touring in support of her latest album, Peace and Noise.

Calls to Morgane Productions in Paris were not returned by press time.

Fans contacted through an online fan 'zine devoted to Smith, called "PHTP," had mixed reactions to her management's decision to block further screenings.

"I don't know for a fact that she is trying to stop it," wrote John Farwell in an e-mail. "But if she is, then yes, of course she should be able to stop it. She is, after all, Patti Smith. Would I like to see it? No, Patti's fame is hers to facilitate. If she doesn't want it seen, I don't wanna see it."

Others disagreed. "It's a free country - even if Patti is unhappy with the way she will be portrayed, etc. - the film has every right to be shown," wrote another fan, Laura West, 30.

She added, "Courtney Love couldn't stop the 'Kurt and Courtney' movie," referring to a controversy earlier this year that erupted after Hole singer Love tried to block the screening of a documentary depicting her relationship with her late husband, Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain. Love objected to use of music in the film and suggestions that she was somehow involved to Cobain's death, which was ruled a suicide.

Despite Love's attempts, the movie opened in theaters on the West Coast and was subsequently shown around the country.

Smith, known for such impassioned hits as "Dancing Barefoot" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Because The Night" (RealAudio excerpt), has a book coming out titled "Patti Smith Complete," due next month by Doubleday. It features poetry, snapshots and drawings by the artist.