Posted at 12:36 PM on April 21, 2009
by Euan Kerr
One of the more fascinating movies I have seen from this years MSPIFF is "Trip to Asia:Quest for Harmony." Don't let the title worry you. It's an excellent documentary about the Berlin Philharmonic tour of several Asian cities, at least on it's face.
The film blends interviews with Sir Simon Rattle and his musicians in several languages with stunning cinematography, not just of the orchestra but the good and the bad of the cities they visit.
There is always something happening in "Trip to Asia," sometimes without the audience being aware until they have watched several scenes. The orchestra is working on a complicated modern piece which challenges Rattle and the musicians. It's hard work and the piece is clearly not to the liking of several of the players, but they put their feelings aside to do the piece as perfectly as possible.
Even as this is going on we learn that several of the musicians are on probation, a process which will end with the orchestra voting on whether to offer them a job for life, or to reject them.
"Trip to Asia" becomes an eloquent exploration of the creative process and the joys and terrors of being in one of the world's top orchestras, placed in the context of cultures very different from where the performers live and work. A discussion on what it is like for a musicians to lose herself in the music might be paired with a shot of construction workers digging up a street in Beijing, or a man smoking on a street in Seoul, South Korea. It's mesmerizing.
Posted at 12:40 PM on April 21, 2009
by Euan Kerr
"No One Said it Would be Easy: a film about Cloud Cult" is part of the Minnesota Made series at MSPIFF.
Director John Burgess followed Cloud Cult for 18 months interviewing band members and fans while also shooting concerts including "Rock the Garden" at the Walker Art Center. He blended in archive footage, animation and a few special effects to create a portrait of a unique band centered around Craig Minowa. It's Minowa's personality, musical talent, and eco-driven philosophy which sets Cloud Cult apart. They work in a green studio run on geo-thermal energy, they have painters who create huge canvases during their shows.
For fans it will be great. For people who don't know the band, the musicians unique approach to life and creativity is a wonder to behold.
Burgess will introduce the film and several Cloud Cult members will attend the screening today. There is then a post-show party at the Nomad Pub.
Posted at 5:25 PM on April 21, 2009
by Euan Kerr
We have a lot of directors and other talent lining up in coming days for the MSPIFF.
Chris Strouth (pictured) director of "Unconvention" talked with ATC's Tom Crann today and that will air tomorrow or Thursday.
Darryl Wein, director and co-star of "Breaking Upwards" chatted with me at length today and we will have that posted on line in the next couple of days.
We are also hoping to chat with Kevin McKiernan, a former MPR reporter who covered the Wounded Knee uprising and who has since travelled the world covering other conflicts. His work appears in the new documentary "Wounded Knee" which is the final part of the "We Shall Remain" series on The American Experience.
McKiernan is set to appear at an advanced screening of the film with various American Indian Movement members on Saturday at the Festival. Listen out for that one on ATC on Friday.
And we will also air our chat with "Moon" director Duncan Jones on Monday ATC, prior to his appearance at the festival.
Here's a sample of his film.