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Patti Smith Hits the Big Screen in Untraditional Rock Doc: Exclusive Clips

July 30, 2008 5:05 PM ET

From 1996 to 2007, photographer Steven Sebring periodically filmed Patti Smith as she traveled the globe playing concerts, visiting the graves of poets and hanging out with friends like Bob Dylan and Michael Stipe. The end result is Patti Smith: Dream of Life, a film that opens on August 6th in New York and in other cities soon after. With no interviews, little narration and a non-chronological story line, the atmospheric film is not a traditional rock documentary. "Filming over so many years was great because the scenes are like they came out of her memory," says Sebring. "It's like her Alice in Wonderland."

(Click above to watch exclusive clips from the film, including Smith prepping for a show with Bob Dylan and performance footage, and keep reading to check out the trailer).

Sebring first met Smith when he went to shoot her for Spin magazine in 1995, shortly after her husband Fred "Sonic" Smith of the MC5 died. "We immediately had a connection," he says. "She's this cute, low key, attractive girl offstage. When I saw her onstage at Irving Plaza she was a completely different woman, spitting and spewing out poetry. I was like, 'Holy shit.' I was looking for an outlet to film somebody. I convinced her to let me start filming her. Years and years of just showing up. Once there was the trust factor, she started to invite me to show up and film her."

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Song Stories

“Money For Nothing”

Dire Straits | 1984

Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

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