"Every word in this film was spoken by the actual people portrayed. In that sense this film is like a documentary. In every other sense, it is different"-Title screen. In 1957, in San Francisco, poet Allen Ginsberg has just published "Howl." This distinctive work immediately generates a great deal of controversy. Publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti has been sued on charges of obscenity, as many feel the poem is simply too explicit for publication (it contains strong language and frank references to homosexuality). When prosecutor Ralph McIntosh and defender Jake Ehrlich go head to head in front of Judge Clayton Horn, freedom of expression hangs in the balance. For the author, filled with the heady joy of poetic success, the trial demands the courage of being Allen Ginsberg--himself.