A Sad Flower in the Sand

The world of John Fante, his writing, his characters and his most famous novel, Ask the Dust.

Although Fante is considered to be an American treasure equal to Kerouac or Fitzgerald, he has remained surprisingly unknown. His writing was ground-breaking, delving into the world of depression era Los Angeles: lost souls, taxi-hall dancers, winos, prostitutes, Filipino laborers. 

In A Sad Flower in the Sand, we discover the world of John Fante, his writing, his characters and his most famous novel, Ask the Dust. Descended from Italian immigrants, Fante moved to Los Angeles as a young penniless writer, bewitched by the American dream. He was just as he portrayed his protagonist in Ask the Dust, Arturo Bandini. 

Fante was passionate about Los Angeles, and he wrote of his love for the city with an immediacy that takes the reader back to the 1930s. Fante wrote in a distinctive voice which captured the attention of screenwriter, Robert Towne (Chinatown). We visit Towne and he tells of his discovery of Fante’s Ask the Dust, of Fante’s unique gift for dialogue, and of his relationship with him. We also meet Fante’s wife and sons, as well as others who played a part in his literary life and in the recent resurgence of interest in his work.

Director Jan Louter uses images the way Fante uses words. He brings Fante’s Los Angeles of the 30s to life in neon shades and twilight blues. We roam the streets of Los Angeles and find Fante’s world, a drab world of dusty cafeterias frequented by broken dreamers. 63 minutes www.viewpointdocs.com

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