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Searching for Elliott Smith (2009)

The unauthorized biography of the Patron Saint of Indie Rock.


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Credited cast:
David Bailey ...
Jennifer Chiba ...
Christopher Cooper ...
Larry Crane ...
Sean Croghan ...
Steve Hanft ...
Pete Krebs ...
Tony Lash ...
Mary Lou Lord ...
Jason Mason ...
David McConnell ...
Robin Peringer ...
Elliott Smith ...
Himself (archive footage)
Alex Steininger ...


Elliott Smith's intensely intimate songs helped popularize lo-fi, indie-rock: a traditionally underground genre until Smith's mainstream effort 'Miss Misery' took Hollywood by surprise. But even after an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song, he managed to fly mostly under the radar. And Smith wanted it that way. After his mysterious death in 2003, (suicide, accident, murder?) Smith's peers avoided the media. Granting very few print interviews and NO on-camera interviews. Until now. From his high school days as a National Merit Scholar, to his early work in the Portland rock band, "Heatmiser", to critical acclaim and his tragic passing. We learn the dark motivations behind a musical genius. And discover how psychic pain can also produce timeless art. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

23 October 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Buscando a Elliott Smith  »

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Heartfelt & Intimate Work Reflecting Elliott Smith's Inner Circle & Their Reactions To Who He Was & Why He Ended His Life
20 July 2014 | by See all my reviews

I recently watched Searching for Elliott Smith and would highly recommend it as an informative, "bird's eye view" on the trajectory of his demise. Gil Reyes, the filmmaker, sought out many of those closest to Elliott Smith and does an excellent job conveying their thoughts, fears, sadness, confusion, even clarity on why his life ended in such a tragic way.

Elliott Smith possessed a rare depth and a knowing, as well as a singular understanding of music, that was ahead of his time and inimitable. He touched and continues to touch so many.

I had only known his work vis-a-vis that stellar musicianship; those songs my young son played constantly after losing his own father. These songs helped heal both of us through deep grief. We've spent many days watching the videos of his live performances and interviews on YouTube; visiting (and writing on) the Elliott Smith Wall in Silverlake, speculating as to why someone imbued with such a wild gift would be struck by an unflinching depression that would ultimately lead to his suicide.

The documentary was a window that helped me see and understand Elliott Smith through the lives of those who knew and loved him so well. And most importantly, it gave a voice to the love of his life, Jennifer Chiba; an opportunity to explain, in her words, what happened on that final day that he chose to end his life.

Reyes creates an intimacy in this film, so that the viewer feels like he or she is in the room too. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in knowing more about one of the greatest singer-songwriters of our time.

--Susan Hayden, Santa Monica, CA

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