Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax to host film festival on Beat author Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac.
Jack Kerouac.

Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac will be the focus of a film festival held in Yorkshire marking the anniversary of his death.

It is 50 years this month since the acclaimed US novelist, author of On the Road, died.

To commemorate the milestone, Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax will be hosting two days of films about the writer, Kerouac on Screen, on October 18 and 19.

It will feature movies about and inspired by the writer, linked to panels and discussions exploring his historical place and continuing significance.

Simon Warner, curator of the festival and author of Text and Drugs and Rock'n'Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture, said: "Kerouac was a complex figure, a devout Catholic who pursued Buddhism, a seeker after independence who remained closely tied to his mother, yet a brilliant writer who captured the essence of a changing nation at a key point in its mid-20th century history.

"The lure of the road, the ecstasy of jazz, the power of religion and the mind-shifting revelations of intoxicants were at the core of his stories, but his unique and vivid vision of outsider life inspired generations of readers who remain transfixed and transported by his remarkable escapades."

Kerouac was a leading figure in the Beat Generation, the ground-breaking 1950s literary movement.

He was a prolific writer of novels, poetry and essays, a huge fan of jazz - specifically bebop - and influenced rock musicians such as Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, David Bowie, the Grateful Dead, Patti Smith and Sonic Youth.

The Square Chapel festival will include screenings of What Happened to Kerouac?, Pull My Daisy, Love Always, Carolyn and On the Road.

Connecting the movies will be a series of panels, featuring Beat specialists, considering Kerouac's relationship to cinema, music and wider society. There will also be a live performance based on the writer’s Mexico City Blues.

A working-class boy from a blue collar New England home, Kerouac won a football scholarship to the prestigious Columbia University in New York. But a broken leg ended his sporting ambitions and, from the mid-1940s, he set out to be a novelist.

His adventures, encompassing the city and the mountains, the highways, the railroad and the sea, became the basis for a series of largely autobiographical volumes, recounting the thrills mid-century America.

Once he found fame at the end of the 1950s however, he later died having suffered from alcohol dependency aged 47.

For further information about the festival and to book contact Square Chapel Box office on 01422 349422.