Many artists use the pain, exhilaration and resolution of private desires to express themselves. This film focuses on intense personalities who've used their art to explore the emotional impact of psychological truths. With Louise Bourgeois, Ed Ruscha, Michael Ray Charles, Elizabeth Peyton, Lari Pittman, Richmond Burton, David Deutsch, writer Dave Hickey & others.

A Ruling Passion plumbs issues that affect artists - preoccupations of startling universality - like community, motivation and controversy, finding one's audience, and just "getting it right."

Music by Beck, Roy Ayers, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Claude Thornhill, Charles Mingus, Joey Altruda, Herbie Hancock