Lexington Honors Late Actor Harry Dean Stanton At 10th Festival Bearing His Name

Harry Dean Stanton
Harry Dean Stanton in a still from "Where The Lilies Bloom." | Photo provided.

“Repo man’s always intense.”

Tomorrow is the birthday of legendary American actor, singer and Kentuckian Harry Dean Stanton. His career in Hollywood spanned six decades from his television debut in “Inner Sanctum” in 1954 until his death in 2017 with his final appearance being in the films “Lucky” and “Frank and Ava,” in which he played Sheriff Lloyd. Stanton was made famous by this role in Wim Wenders’ “Paris, Texas.” This weekend in Lexington, Harry Dean Stanton Fest will show the film that made him famous and a few others that showcased the range of roles that made Stanton adored by so many. 

"We're tremendously excited to bring back Harry Dean Stanton Fest following an extended COVID pause," Festival Founder Lucy Jones told LEO.  "We are especially excited to welcome back Kentuckian Allison Anders. She is, of course, best known as the director of indie classics such as 'Gas Food Lodging' and 'Mi Vida Loca,' but one of her first film jobs was on the set of 'Paris, Texas' as a production assistant. She kept a journal during that time and has incredible photos from the set. We can't wait to hear her stories snd feel deeply honored that Silas House will moderate the Q&A."

Stanton is a cinematic treasure and it is only fitting that his home state continue to honor him. This Harry Dean Stanton fest will be the 10th one. It started in 2011.

click to enlarge Photo provided by festival
Photo provided by festival

Happening this Friday, July 15 through Sunday, July 17, a full schedule of events will highlight the life and career of Stanton. With talks from those who knew and worked with Stanton including Director Allison Anders and Writer Silas House, the weekend will be packed with deep knowledge about Stanton, his work and the roots that helped bring his characters to life.

Director Anders told LEO about her experience working with Stanton, "It was invaluable to me to watch Harry work with Wim and with Dean Stockwell and Hunter [Carson] and Nastassja (Kinski), but the godsend to me from Harry was that he was the first actor who allowed me to witness the process of putting a character together and invited me to share my own personal experience to contribute to his performance. I had no idea that sharing something from my own life could be of value to actors. That was Harry’s generosity and it was Wim’s super intuition for putting us together that way."

Here’s the Schedule from the festival website (and how to get tickets): 

Friday, July 15:

8 p.m.: Killer cars under the stars! We'll kick off the festival with a free outdoor screening of CHRISTINE at Base 249. Bring your lawn chairs and an appetite. There will be food trucks and Base 249 will be serving spirits. Doors open at 8 and screening will start at dusk (approximately 9 p.m.)

Location: Base 249 at 249 W. Main St.

Saturday, July 16:

Noon: Free screening of STARS AND BARS (1988) Harry Dean Stanton has second billing to Daniel Day-Lewis in this rowdy farce that is part '80s street movie and part Southern road trip. We've been looking for a print of this forever and finally found one. It's a delightfully expansive who's who of terrific character actors — see if you can name them all!

Location: Farish Theater at the Lexington Public Library, 140 E. Main St.

2 p.m.: Silas House hosts a free screening of WHERE THE LILIES BLOOM followed by discussion. We are tickled pink that one of Kentucky's greatest literary treasures is joining us to share one of his favorite childhood films. This is sure to be a festival highlight!

Location: Farish Theater at the Lexington Public Library, 140 E. Main St.

8 p.m.: Equus/Standardbred Station presents Billy Swan and Andreas Werner! Billy Swan was a longtime member of both Kris Kristofferson's band and Harry Dean Stanton's friend group. In this rare musical performance he will share some of his favorite songs (including his 1974 hit "I Can Help") as well as stories from his time in Hollywood with Harry.

Location: The Green Lantern, 497 W. 3rd St. Doors at 7 p.m., Show at 8 p.m. Price: $20 for limited guaranteed seating available for pre-sale ?$15 for standing room on the day of show. Get Tickets Here!

?Sunday, July 17

1 p.m.: Free screening of THE HOSTAGE (1967) This is another rare film that we've long wanted to screen but have only recently located a print. Harry has a great deal of screentime and some touching scenes opposite his young co-star in this thriller about a young boy who inadvertently stows away in the truck of a volatile murderer (Don O'Kelly) and his good-hearted sidekick (Harry Dean Stanton) as the two are en route to dispose of a body.

Location: Farish Theater at the Lexington Public Library, 140 E. Main St.

3 p.m.: Joseph Atkins presents Harry Dean Stanton: Hollywood's Zen Rebel! We are so excited to welcome Harry Dean's award-winning biographer for a reading of his work and Q&A. Joe Atkins has attended previous festivals during the research process, and we're thrilled to share the beautiful book that his years of hard work have yielded. This is a free event and books will be available for purchase.

Location: Farish Theater at the Lexington Public Library, 140 E. Main St.

7 p.m.: Screening of “Paris, Texas” followed by a Q&A with legendary filmmaker Allison Anders moderated by bestselling novelist Silas House. Allison Anders is well-known for her classics of independent cinema including GAS FOOD LODGING and MI VIDA LOCA, but before she became a celebrated film director she was a production assistant on PARIS, TEXAS. An exchange that she had on the set of that film with fellow Kentuckian Harry Dean Stanton helped inform both the character of Travis Henderson and Anders' own future. A lifetime of friendship followed.

Location: The Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St. Price: $15 Get Tickets Here!

If you can’t make the festival or aren’t sure about why Harry Dean Stanton is a giant in the world of film, enjoy this documentary about his career. 

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