One hell-raising, scrappy little bookstore has survived the changing tides of the publishing world and of the world in general for seven decades. City Lights. A mainstay of San Francisco’s bohemian North Beach neighborhood since1953, it is our nation’s oldest independent bookstore and an icon in the industry. It is also holds a special place in American literature as the rebellious publisher of unique voices from the Beat poets of the 1950s to the 2016 U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and Slam Poetess Chinaka Hodge. City Lights has survived – and stayed true to its mission – with a unique model for publishing, distributing and selling controversial books.
This documentary will be about the people, the atmosphere and the values that have animated City Lights over seven decades. How does a place born of the ideals of Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Kerouac, and Corso survive in a literary world overtaken by Amazon, Kindle and Google? Will the social networks replace the local bookstore as a gathering place for the arts? And how can City Lights continue to push the boundaries of progressive politics in what is becoming an ever more fractious world?