"LENNONYC" film traces ex-Beatle's New York years

Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:51pm EDT
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By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - So much has been told about the Beatles that director Michael Epstein knew he needed to say something different in his documentary of John Lennon, which premiered this past weekend at the New York Film Festival.

The film, "LENNONYC," recounts the ex-Beatle's decade in the United States as the tale of an immigrant coming to America and the importance of New York City to the musician and his wife, Yoko Ono.

Using previously unreleased audio tapes and outtakes made during studio recording sessions, the movie traces Lennon's life from his move to Greenwich Village in 1971 to his murder outside his Upper West Side apartment building in 1980.

For Lennon, New York offered an escape from Britain, where he felt the media was harsh to him and to Ono, the movie recounts. New York gave him the freedom to live a more ordinary life, able to dine out or walk in his beloved Central Park without being hassled by fans or press.

"John's is an immigrant story," Epstein said at a press screening. It serves as a "reminder" of what coming to America means, especially amid the current public debate over illegal immigration, he said.

"We don't share a common past," Epstein said. "What we share is a common vision for the future, at our best."

The documentary traces Lennon's anti-war activism, efforts by the U.S. government to deport him, the release of his albums "Mind Games" and "Double Fantasy" and his famed "lost weekend" when he left home and fell into heavy, destructive drinking.