Monday, March 5, 2012

Canadian Music Week Film Festival 2012

I love music and am a big fan of music films, but have to con­fess that I didn’t know until quite recently that in addi­tion to filling every live music venue in the city, Canadian Music Week also screens films. Programmed this year by my friend Jeff Wright (of Refocus fame), the film lineup looks par­tic­u­larly inter­esting. It helps that at my age, I find it easier to watch films about musi­cians (where I can con­trol the volume) than to actu­ally see many bands live. I’m kid­ding. Mostly.

In any case you can get more inform­a­tion over at the CMW site.

Under African Skies

Under African Skies (USA, Director: Joe Berlinger) — screening Wednesday March 21 at 7:00pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox

Director Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) accom­panies Paul Simon as he returns to a very dif­ferent South Africa than the one he vis­ited in 1985 to record his best-selling album Graceland. What makes this inter­esting is the polit­ical sub­text; Simon broke a UN cul­tural boy­cott in 1985, vis­iting the country while it was still under apartheid rule. As he revisits some of the musi­cians he worked with on Graceland, they dis­cuss politics and how South Africa has changed since the end of white rule. Oh, and they play a little music as well.

Sound It Out

Sound It Out (UK, Director: Jeanie Finlay) — screening Thursday March 22 at 7:00pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox

A charming and idio­syn­cratic por­trait of one of the last remaining record stores in Stockton-on-Tees, a strug­gling indus­trial town in England’s eco­nom­ic­ally depressed Northeast. Full of sym­path­etic char­ac­ters dis­cussing their love of music, Sound It Out will have you yearning for the days when a record store clerk com­pli­mented you on your taste. I saw it when it showed at South by Southwest last year, and you can read my review, if you dare.

Last Days Here

Last Days Here (USA, Directors: Don Argott and Demian Fenton) — screening Thursday March 22 at 9:15pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox

I missed this one at South by Southwest in 2011, but plan to catch it this time. Pentagram’s lead singer Bobby Liebling has been at it for more than 35 years, and yet his band has achieved little in the way of com­mer­cial suc­cess. When young heavy metal fans finally dis­cover the band, Liebling is living in his par­ents’ base­ment, strug­gling with addic­tion and the many dis­ap­point­ments of his life. Can the young fans help him over­come his despair?

Hit So Hard

Hit So Hard (USA, Director: P. David Ebersole) — screening Friday March 23 at 9:00pm at NFB Mediatheque

Hole drummer Patty Schemel is under the spot­light in this doc­u­mentary, which also fea­tures home movie footage of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. Patty recalls the rise and fall of Hole, her rela­tion­ships with other mem­bers of the sem­inal Seattle grunge scene (most not­ably, Hole’s singer Courtney Love) and her own struggles with the band’s suc­cess and then its dissolution.

Girl Walk // All Day

Girl Walk // All Day (USA, Director: Jacob Krupnick) — screening Saturday March 24 at 9:15pm at NFB Mediatheque

This is without a doubt the one I’m looking for­ward to the most. Created as a 71-minute music video for Girl Talk’s recent album All Day, Krupnick’s film evokes my favourite dance film of recent years, NY Export: Opus Jazz. Featuring the work of sev­eral modern dan­cers, most not­ably Anne Marsen, and shot com­pletely “guerrilla-style” on the streets of New York, it’s both a love letter to the city and to the spon­tan­eous joy of dan­cing in public spaces. The film was also com­pletely funded on Kickstarter. It was so suc­cessful, in fact, that it received more than 500% of its requested budget. Do not miss this chance to see (and hear) it on a big screen. Even watching the trailer fills me with giddy delight.

Tickets for all screen­ings are now on sale. The best place to find out how to get them is on the CMW Film Fest’s Facebook page.

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