WIL­LIE, doc­u­men­tary, not rated, Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts,

Pasatiempo - - TERRELL’S TUNE-UP - Wil­lie Llan­ito Wil­lie. Wil­lie The Bik­erid­ers, Wil­lie, Wil­lie Con­ver­sa­tions With the Dead Wil­lie. Lit­tle Boy

Wil­lie Jaramillo’s imp­ish grin might haunt you. In

(1985), the doc­u­men­tary about his life made by leg­endary civil rights pho­tog­ra­pher Danny Lyon, he is in his early thir­ties and has been in­car­cer­ated, on and off, since his teens. Wil­lie grew up in Ber­nalillo among many brothers. His friends and fam­ily in­form Lyon and his cam­era that Wil­lie is ir­ra­tional and prone to vi­o­lent out­bursts, but the man we meet acts more dam­aged than dan­ger­ous. His mind is ob­vi­ously ad­dled — by drugs, by re­peated beat­ings to the head, by a life­time of los­ing peo­ple he loves to heroin over­doses, and by other, un­name­able ways in which life hurts some of us more than oth­ers.

Wil­lie is locked up and re­leased sev­eral times dur­ing the movie for small acts of vi­o­lence that we do not see. It is pos­si­ble that Lyon has a calm­ing ef­fect on Wil­lie, who he be­gan cap­tur­ing on film when he was twelve. Lyon’s black-and-white footage of Wil­lie and his brothers and neigh­bors run­ning around the bar­ren high desert ap­pears in an ear­lier movie, (1971), and is re­pur­posed in The sun-bleached mov­ing im­ages are jux­ta­posed with the prison-cell walls of Wil­lie’s present day. As a kid he is soft-spo­ken and bash­ful, hes­i­tantly trust­ing of Lyon’s in­ter­est — a bit like a stray dog who has slept in the rain of­ten enough to know howl­ing won’t get him in­vited in­side. Older Wil­lie still seems like a lit­tle boy.

Lyon presents a screen­ing of on Sun­day, Nov. 12, at the Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts, fol­lowed by an on­stage con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Lyon and Tey Marianna Nunn, di­rec­tor and chief cu­ra­tor of the art mu­seum and vis­ual arts pro­gram at the Na­tional His­panic Cul­tural Cen­ter. The event is part of the Rad­i­cal South­west film se­ries of­fered in con­junc­tion with the New Mex­ico His­tory Mu­seum’s Voices of Coun­ter­cul­ture in the South­west ex­hi­bi­tion.

Lyon, born and raised in New York City, at­tended the Univer­sity of Chicago in the early 1960s. He emerged as a pow­er­ful artis­tic and jour­nal­is­tic voice as the staff pho­tog­ra­pher for the Stu­dent Non­vi­o­lent Co­or­di­nat­ing Com­mit­tee. Lyon’s pic­tures of the protests and po­lice bru­tal­ity that oc­curred dur­ing the civil rights move­ment are among the most iconic im­ages of the era. Later, he be­came a prac­ti­tioner of Hunter S. Thomp­son’s “gonzo jour­nal­ism,” join­ing the Chicago Out­laws Mo­tor­cy­cle Club and pub­lish­ing

a col­lec­tion of pho­to­graphs and in­ter­views from his time with the gang, in 1968. He then spent over a year pho­tograph­ing the bleak con­di­tions in­side sev­eral Texas pen­i­ten­tiaries and sub­se­quently pub­lished (1971).

Lyon and his fam­ily lived in Ber­nalillo in the 1970s. In the ’70s and ’80s, he turned his at­ten­tion to doc­u­men­tary film, mak­ing more than a dozen fea­ture­length pieces; his wife, Nancy Lyon, served as sound de­signer for Wil­lie ap­pears in 1977’s when he is in his late teens and ob­vi­ously us­ing drugs. In we learn that he grav­i­tates to in­halants like paint and glue, and some­times to heroin. His brother, Ferny, also likes to sniff, and friends note that it has started to af­fect his mind. (He has been seen around town talk­ing to him­self.) We meet an­other brother, David, and a much younger sib­ling, Randy, who is a peer of Wil­lie’s nephew, Jamie, a jaded, beer-swill­ing boxer barely in his teens.

is un­fussy, like an ex­cep­tion­ally well-made home movie, but the strength of the story arc in­di­cates an ex­pe­ri­enced edit­ing hand and a film­maker who en­gen­ders trust in his sub­jects. It is a time cap­sule of North­ern New Mex­ico, high­light­ing Ber­nalillo’s street fash­ion, park­ing-lot cul­ture, and rhythms of speech. Women ap­pear only in the back­ground of the movie. We are told they are afraid of Wil­lie — they don’t even want him to look at them.

It is within mu­sic that Wil­lie finds mo­ments of grace. The first in­stance of this is when he sings a hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross,” while sit­ting un­der a bridge on the banks of the Río Grande, just after re­veal­ing to Lyon that he had been present for the 1980 riot at the New Mex­ico State Pen­i­ten­tiary. He gets a flat, far­away look in his eyes while talk­ing about it, and seems to re­vert to a place of quiet para­noia and mount­ing anger. “Why aren’t you dead? You’re sup­posed to be dead,” he says peo­ple told him after the riot. The se­cond in­stance of this grace is when he is hang­ing out with a friend, talk­ing about peo­ple they used to know, and the 1964 hit “Be­cause” by the Dave Clark Five comes on the ra­dio. Wil­lie knows all the lyrics. He sings along and does a happy, easy dance to the old­fash­ioned melody, and his per­pet­ual expression of hurt con­fu­sion dis­ap­pears. There is a man in­side of him who is un­touched by the depre­da­tions he has en­dured. Given half a chance, he might have been a crooner.

The last time we see Wil­lie, he is be­ing es­corted to a court­house. As soon as he is be­hind closed doors, away from the cam­era, we hear him melt down, thrash­ing against re­straints and ac­cus­ing the guards of try­ing to kill him. Lyon cap­tures only the au­dio of this — per­haps be­cause he wasn’t al­lowed in­side, or maybe in an ef­fort to main­tain the dig­nity of this tragic fig­ure who he watched grow up in the un­re­lent­ing glare of the New Mex­ico sun.

Jen­nifer Levin

“Wil­lie” screens at the Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts (1050 Old Pe­cos Trail), fol­lowed by a con­ver­sa­tion with film­maker Danny Lyon and Tey Marianna Nunn, at 1 p.m. Sun­day, Nov. 12.

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