Best Film, Cinematography, Screenplay and First Time Director
"A spunky exploration of the legacy left by writer Jack Kerouac."
- Hollywood Reporter
Miles has served one meat loaf platter too many. A waiter with aspirations toward acting, he’s sick of living a cliché and is anxious for a change. So when Milos Forman announces he’s casting a new film about Jack Kerouac, Miles jumps at the opportunity. One problem: Miles is in New York, the auditions are in L.A. Enter Charlie, a Brooklyn cab driver who’s willing to accept, as he calls it, “this endless fare.” As their vintage Checker cab cruises cross-country, Miles searches for the Kerouac within while Charlie tries to keep his secrets neatly tucked away in his suitcase.
Written and Directed by Joseph Castelo
Starring: Kevin Corrigan, Vincent Schiavelli, Woody Harrelson
Executive Producer: Michael Hausman
Produced by: Scott Ferguson, Jonathan V. Hludzinski, Jeffrey Kusama-Hinte
Cinematography by Mark Petersson
Film Editing by Joel Hirsch
Music by Jim Dickinson and the North Mississippi All-Stars
Running time: 88 minutes
Shaken fest-goers were offered a much smoother ride -- in a big, yellow Checker Marathon to be precise. The vintage 1980 taxi made a run from New York to Los Angeles in "American Saint," an independent DV feature which had its world premiere at the Kabuki Theater. A Brooklyn hack (character actor Vincent Schiavelli) agrees to drive aKerouac-struck actor (indie perennial Kevin Corrigan) to the Coast for a Milos Forman casting call in this refreshing twist on the road trip genre.
"The original idea came to me when I was actually in the back seat of a New York City cab, and I just felt like I wanted to take this cab from New York to L.A.," writer/director Joseph Castelo told indieWIRE. "The fare is something like $9,713." The Columbia University film student caught the attention of producers Michael Hausman("The People vs. Larry Flynt") and Jeff Levy-Hinte ("High Art") with a 30-page treatment. Aside from a few location snafus with the police, the improvised joyride was completed without a hitch, costing about $250,000 including 35mm transfer.
"American Saint" refers to the character of Dean Moriarty in Kerouac's "On the Road," and Castelo admits that he is devotee of the late author. Commenting on an indie film tradition of beatnik-wannabe characters, Castelo said, "The way I avoided cliches was just keeping it real. As long as everything was truthful, I wasn't pandering to the audience."
Moments that ring true outshine a few bad improvs. "We would show up somewhere and people didn't know we were coming. I'd say, 'This guy is really interesting. Let's get something going.'" The film coalesces when the principals meet Joe Light, a funky "outsider" artist discovered during the course of the shoot, whose presence gave cast, crew and the San Fran audience a dose of authentic Americana.
by Carl Russo
San Francisco International Film Festival
American Saint may contain beatific poetry slams, Beale Street blues bars and outsider art, but Joseph Castelo’s debut feature is more than a tribute to the spirit of Kerouac and his brethren. Miles and Charlie are “on the road,” but it’s one few of us have traveled. Armed with a digital video camera, Castelo and his crew have captured a wryly humorous world situated somewhere between reality and fiction. Indie film stalwart Kevin Corrigan and veteran character actor Vincent Schiavelli mingle with real people who seem unaware they’re in a movie, giving American Saint a disarming air of happenstance.
by Doug Jones
Taking up the Beat banner, Joseph Castelo’s American Saint, a largely improvised DV road movie inspired by Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, captured an energy and spontaneity widely lacking in many of the fest’s larger-budget independent selections. Shooting on location from New York to L.A. with only a scenario-based script, Castelo elicits refreshingly unmannered performances from leads Kevin Corrigan and Vincent Schiavelli.
by Chuck Stephens