Documentary about the late Chicago artist and musician Wesley Willis. Filmmaker Daniel Bitton follows Willis throughout the Chicago area, riding the bus, talking to friends and strangers ...
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Documentary about the late Chicago artist and musician Wesley Willis. Filmmaker Daniel Bitton follows Willis throughout the Chicago area, riding the bus, talking to friends and strangers alike, selling his CDs to record shops and going about his day. Willis was memorable to many for being schizophrenic as well as 6'6" and over 300 pounds, but was loved by his fans and friends for his quirky, oddball music, artistic talent and for being a real gentle giant. He was a testament to the human drive to survive and create, as he himself was a survivor of extreme poverty, mental illness, child abuse, racism, and obesity. The fact that he lived to see 40 was incredible, but his having a successful music career and being able to function was even more so. Also included on the DVD is a complete Los Angeles concert with Willis' punk band "Wesley Willis Fiasco". Written by
Wesley Willis was a very unique person from Chicago, who grew up poor in the notorious housing projects, was a victim of violent abuse, and developed a mental illness (he was diagnosed with schizophrenia). He was homeless for a while, supporting himself by selling drawings of various places in Chicago, until he discovered his musical side and began performing spoken word poetry to the accompanyment of an inexpensive canned-music keyboard. Eventually, he made some very good friends who began to look out for him and make sure he took his medication and had a decent place to sleep. Perhaps the high point of his musical career was the forming of his noise-punk band "Wesley Willis Fiasco", which recorded on Jello Biafra's "Alternative Tentacles" label. Sadly, Willis passed away in 2003 after a battle with lukemia.
The DVD is great if you are a Wesley Willis fan. It's well made in a film school kind of way, including interviews with many of Willis' friends, as well as a huge amount of discussions with Willis himself. Viewers get to experience first hand the kind of meanness Willis would have to endure from time to time, as well as see how kind people can be with someone who just needs a little extra bit of patience and understanding. A full Los Angeles "Wesley Willis Fiasco" concert is included as well.
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