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Festival Express (2003)

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The filmed account of a large Canadian rock festival train tour boasting major acts like Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead and The Band.
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rick Danko ...
Himself - The Band
...
Himself - The Band
Garth Hudson ...
Himself - The Band
Richard Manuel ...
Himself - The Band
...
Himself - The Band
...
Herself - Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
Delaney Bramlett ...
Himself - Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
Ben Benay ...
Himself - Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
Sam Clayton ...
Himself - Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
Jim Gordon ...
Himself - Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
Kenny Gradney ...
Himself - Delaney & Bonnie & Friends / Interviewee
Jerry Jumonville ...
Himself - Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
Darrell Leonard ...
Himself - Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
Frank Maize ...
Himself - Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
Chuck Morgan ...
Himself - Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
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Storyline

In the summer of 1970, a chartered train crossed Canada carrying some of the world's greatest rock bands. The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Band, Buddy Guy, and others lived (and partied) together for five days, stopping in major cities along the way to play live concerts. Their journey was filmed. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Festival Express... The longest party in rock-n-roll history.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

29 April 2004 (Netherlands)  »

Also Known As:

Fesztivál Expressz  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$12,074, 25 July 2004, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,172,345, 14 November 2004
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter wrote the song "Might As Well" about the Festival Express train trip. This song, performed over the years by Grateful Dead, has lots of lyrics referencing this trip: "Long train running from coast to coast/bringing long the party where they need it the most" and "Never had such a good time/in my life before/I'd like to have it one time more/One good ride from start to end/I'd like to take that ride again." See more »

Connections

Referenced in Gilmore Girls: A House Is Not a Home (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

I Shall Be Released
Performed by The Band
Written by Bob Dylan
Published by Dwarf Music
The Band appears courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A singularly unique experience in the annals of rock n'roll!
30 August 2004 | by See all my reviews

I live in Winnipeg and unfortunately missed FESTIVAL EXPRESS when it rolled through back in 1970. I opted instead to go to Winnipeg's other huge ticket that summer - Manpop - which featured Led Zeppelin, Iron Butterfly and the Youngbloods as headliners. I've always remembered Festival Express as a golden opportunity missed - but being only sixteen years old with limited funds - I was forced to live with the consequences of a tough choice.

Seeing the film "Festival Express" isn't quite like being there in person, but it's the next best thing! For young folks who weren't even born in 1970, it's a chance to see Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, the Band, the Fly Burrito Bros, Buddy Guy, Ian & Sylvia, et al... in their prime and find out what the buzz was all about. Janis and Jerry Garcia are in particularly great voice. Janis gives a gut wrenchingly poignant performance, particularly during "Cry Baby". I'm not sure what brought the tears to my eyes, her greatness or the knowledge that she would leave us just a few short months after that performance (followed later by the tragic death's of the Dead's drummer "Pigpen" & guitarist/singer Jerry Garcia and the Band's piano player Richard Manuel & bassist Rick Danko)

The concert footage of Janis and the Dead alone justify the film's admission price. My biggest gripe was that there should have been far more concert footage included. However, a local newspaper writeup mentioned that much of the concert footage was non-usable (bad sound, out of focus cameras, sound/no pix, pix/no sound....). It was so bad apparently - the fact that anything remotely resembling a cohesive film was wrought from the mounds of botched footage was nothing short of minor miracle! Don't get me wrong - the behind the scenes footage of the band partying and jamming stand on their own merit. Jerry Garcia pops up jamming on stage and off with everyone from Ian & Sylvia and the Great Speckled Bird (on stage in Calgary) to the Band's Rick Danko (on the train along with Janis - quite schwacked - hilarious!) Shots of protesters bitching about "the pigs" and high admissions prices (Fourteen dollars - how outrageous!)are also good for a chuckle and help capture the flavour of the period.

"Festival Express'" split screen camera techniques, the documentary style narrative and band lineups are bound to invite comparisons to the movie "Woodstock." I believe the camera techniques and documentary style are intended to help recapture the time period and mood rather than to ripoff "Woodstock." Further, neither Janis', the Dead's nor the Band's Woodstock performances made it into the original "Woodstock" movie. The experience of trucking a load of monstrously talented - notoriously hard partying rock n'rollers across Canada in a train with a well stocked bar, guitar amps, and a drum kit while the cameras rolled is singularly unique in the annals of rock n'roll - so is this film! Check it out!!


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