March 4, 2012

Paul Goodman: Torchbearer for a Generation

A new documentary by a Maine filmmaker revisits the life and times of Paul Goodman, whose teachings became a rallying cry for many during the turbulent 1960s.

By Bob Keyes
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Paul Goodman at an anti-war protest with fellow writer and activist Grace Paley.

Photo courtesy of the Goodman estate

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Paul Goodman in New York. Goodman was a source of inspiration for filmmaker Jonathan Lee, whose documentary "Paul Goodman Changed My Life" is winning critical acclaim. / The New York Times / Sam Falk

Additional Photos Below


• 7 p.m. today, Meg Perry Center, 644 Congress St., Portland

• 7 p.m. March 13, 5 p.m. March 14 and 7 p.m. March 15, Stonington Opera House


Stoehr was working on a biography of Goodman, and urged Lee to make a movie instead.

And so he did – but it took another 20 years to move forward with the project. He learned the art of filmmaking, hired a crew, and traveled around the country interviewing people who knew Goodman. He spent about $700,000 making the movie.

The final result is a compelling documentary that explains Goodman, his beliefs, his quirks and his idiosyncrasies. The theme that emerged during those interviews gave Lee the title for his film. To a person, his subjects all said, "Paul Goodman changed my life." Lee could relate, because Goodman changed his life too. He hopes the movie does the same for others.

Lee, who's now in his 50s, is busy traveling with the film and answering questions. It's popular on the Jewish film festival circuit and in alternative movie houses coast to coast.

He will screen it for people associated with the Occupy Maine movement at the Meg Perry Center for Peace, Justice & Community in Portland today, and it will receive more public screenings this month in Waterville and Stonington.

The timing could not be better, Lee said.

Goodman's widow and daughter both live in Maine, and they told him that Goodman would jump right in with the Occupy Maine movement – but not necessarily in a rah-rah sort of way. He would attend their events and rally them forward with direction.

And very likely, he would tell the movement's leaders to do their homework, present a focused message and act from a position of strength and knowledge.

Lee was glad to have the chance to make this movie, but distressed that he felt it necessary.

"This guy has just disappeared," he said. "Unfortunately many of the problems he addressed have gotten worse, and many of his ideas are relevant again today. The guy was a visionary." 

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

Twitter: pphbkeyes


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Additional Photos

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A poster for the documentary "Paul Goodman Changed My Life" by Maine filmmaker Jonathan Lee.


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