Plot & Details
Steven Jesse Bernstein was a Seattle-based poet whose verse documented the darker side of human existence, but with an insightful heart and soul that kept his work from sliding into nihilism. Bernstein knew about life's challenges from personal experience -- he was stricken with polio as a child and spent time in a mental institution -- but his iconoclastic verse made him a minor celebrity in his hometown of Seattle, Washington. Bernstein was adopted by the city's underground rock community, and he often read his work as an opening act for bands such as Nirvana, Mudhoney and Big Black, but rather than jumping on the grunge bandwagon, he worked in the tradition of beat poets who often combined their verse with music, and in addition to publishing his work, he recorded an acclaimed album, Prison, in collaboration with musician and producer Steve Fisk. Bernstein's gritty but very human life and work are explored in the documentary I Am Secretly A Very Important Man, which also offers a portrait of Seattle before the grunge explosion and the high-tech boom transformed the city. I Am Secretly A Very Important Man was an official selection at the 2010 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.