Directed/Produced/Written by: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman

Produced by: Christine K. Walker, Elizabeth Redleaf

Animation Designer:  Eric Drooker

Executive Producer: Gus Van Sant

Associate Producer: James Q. Chan

Production Company: Werc Werk Works, Telling Pictures

Distributed by: Oscilloscope  

Composed from court records, interviews, and HOWL by Allen Ginsberg. Animation inspired by ILLUMINATED POEMS by Allen Ginsberg and Eric Drooker.

James Franco stars as the young Allen Ginsberg--poet, counter-culture adventurer, and chronicler of the Beat Generation. In his famously confessional, leave-nothing-out style, Ginsberg recounts the road trips, love affairs, and search for personal liberation that led to the most timeless and electrifying work of his career: the poem HOWL. Meanwhile in a San Francisco courtroom, HOWL is on trial. Prosecutor Ralph McIntosh (David Strathairn) sets out to prove that the book should be banned, while suave defense attorney Jake Ehrlich (Jon Hamm) argues fervently for freedom of speech and creative expression. The proceedings veer from the comically absurd to the passionate as a host of unusual witnesses (Jeff Daniels, Mary-Louise Parker, Treat Williams, Alessandro Nivola) pit generation against generation and art against fear in front of conservative Judge Clayton Horn (Bob Balaban).

Howl is simultaneously a portrait of a renegade artist breaking down barriers to find love and redemption, and an imaginative ride through a prophetic masterpiece that rocked a generation and was heard around the world. (



Sundance Film Festival; Opening Night 2010

Berlinale Film Festival

National Board of Review Freedom of Expression Award Winner



"Not quite a biopic, not really a documentary and only loosely an adaptation, HOWL does something that sounds simple until you consider how rarely it occurs in films of any kind. It takes a familiar, celebrated piece of writing and makes it come alive."

- A.O.Scot, NY Times

"Moments of soaring brilliance, with an elegant performance by James Franco as Ginsberg that should redefine his career."
- Betsy Sharkey, LA Times

“HOWL combines dramatization and documentary images so fluidly that one experiences what may be a new form.”
- Steven Watson, Artforum 

“Damned if Franco doesn’t nail the poet’s winningly bombastic urban-intellectual glee; he’s like a young rabbi letting himself go in the New York beatnik unerground. HOWL isn’t a conventional biopic.”
- Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

"Franco plays Ginsberg with an electrified fondness. HOWL plays like poetry in motion.”
- Troy Patterson, Spin Magazine

"An exhilarating experiment that Sundance was built to nurture. Bravo!"
- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone


Photo: Peter Orlovsky/Allen Ginsberg (left); Aaron Tveit/James Franco (right)

Official "HOWL" clip from Oscilloscope.