June 20, 1969: “Feast of Friends” Wins at Atlanta Film Festival

"Feast of Friends" Wins at Atlanta Film Festival

One of Jim Morrison’s ambitions was to be a filmmaker and he did realize that dream when The Doors filmed “Feast of Friends.” It was a documentary on The Doors (Morrison called it “a fictional documentary”), filmed from live concerts and backstage. The film was never released during Morrison’s lifetime, but he and The Doors did enter and show it in a few film festivals. On June 20, 1969 Morrison accepted the Golden Phoenix Award for “Feast of Friends” at the 2nd Annual Atlanta International Film Festival.

Morrison took a personal interest in the film when the other members of The Doors expressed their doubts about the film and refused to put any more money in it. Morrison personally put up the money to finish “Feast of Friends” and helped and watched over it as Frank Lisciandro edited it. The film was entered in film festivals across the country and won a number of awards and honors for the film which Morrison took as vindication for the investment in shooting the film. The Atlanta International Film Festival ran from June 16-21 with the award ceremony being held on the evening of the 20th. Both Morrison and Lisciandro attended the event.

Morrison talks about Atlanta and “Feast of Friends”:

The screening of “Feast of Friends” at the Atlanta International Film Festival not only sold out but had to add a screening to accommodate all the fans wanting to see the film. Lisciandro described the day he and Morrison spent in Atlanta in his “An Hour for Magic.” Some of the highlights of the day included meeting with the organizer of the film festival who had a rare (for the time) mobile phone in his briefcase and Morrison wanted to try it out. Morrison called a local DJ while driving around the city. The festival organizer took them out to lunch with Ted Turner, and they went to a rent party in the “hippie” section of Atlanta in which Morrison regaled them with his rock and roll adventures.

At the award ceremony Morrison and Lisciandro were seated with producers of Atlanta TV commercials, who didn’t like that they were seated with hippies who made “X-perri-mental films.” Morrison magnanimously ordered bottles of Pouilly-Fuissé for the table and proceeded to drink water tumblers full of the wine. Upon receiving the award, a tipsy Morrison traded his room key with the voluptuous woman presenting the award.

Other films screened at the Atlanta International Film Festival that year also received awards, including George Lucas’ USC student film “THX-1138,” and Steven Spielberg’s film “Amblin,’” which seems a distant cousin to Morrison’s “HWY” (which Jim had filmed that April with Frank Lisciandro, Paul Ferrara, and Babe Hill) in that “Amblin’” is also a story of a hitchhiker in the desert. Another Doors/Jim Morrison connection with George Lucas is that Harrison Ford worked as a grip as The Doors filmed “Feast of Friends.”

Last October I had the opportunity to talk with Sheldon Renan, who is an expert on American underground films (in another bit of synchronicity he was on set of Lucas‘ “THX-1138” during the filming). Renan had the opportunity to be a judge with Jim Morrison at the UC Santa Cruz Film Festival in October 1969. Morrison brought along a copy of “Feast of Friends” and showed it to the other judges (besides Renan, the other judge was underground filmmaker Robert Nelson) and Renan had this to say about “Feast of Friends”:

“It felt like a privilege to be seeing a film that was essentially unseen at that point. And it was an amazing film, deeply subjective, pure point of view, continually moving through life/space with everything moving around and past you.”

You can read the entire interview with Sheldon Renan here at The Doors Examiner.

Now, of course, “Feast of Friends” is available to the public, having been officially released in November 2014.

Originally published June 20, 2015.

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