Thursday, 19 February 2009

music documentaries in may

sounds like teen spirit
Sounds Like Teen Spirit: A Popumentary

The month of May becomes a celebration of music through film at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. ACMI's First Look program will showcase four of the freshest musical documentaries by new local and overseas directors.

ACMI Head of Film Programs, Richard Sowada, said of the program: "We've programmed the best of the newest crop of music documentaries from across the world. All of these films debuted in 2008 to critical acclaim and even more extraordinary is that all the directorial talent of these films is relatively new, and for three of these directors, this is their feature debut."

"What's more, with two Australian and two Melbourne premieres it is a unique opportunity for ACMI audiences to see these new films on the big screen."

From the Junior Eurovision Song Contest to seminal songwriter Dennis Lambert's revival tour, from serene African beats and vocals to Aussie rock, this special season has something for everyone, capturing the beauty of the music through performance and exploring the lives of the people behind it.

ACMI's First Look music documentary season will run for the entire month of May, with one film showcased each week.

Thu 30 Apr  - Sun 3 May 2009
Sounds Like Teen Spirit: A Popumentary
Jamie Jay Johnson, 100mins, UK, 2008, Digital Betacam, English, Flemish, Bulgarian, Georgian, Cypriot Greek with English subtitles Source: Beyond Entertainment

The month commences with the Australian premiere of Sounds Like Teen Spirit: A Popumentary (2008), a documentary about the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, regarded as the super sequined spawn of its over-the-top-pop spectacular parent! 

The Junior competition is heady and extravagant - yet a wildly more endearing - display of driven young talent, following a handful of creative under 16 year-olds who in order to vie for stardom must write and perform their own songs, wowing millions of voting viewers in a live telecast.

Sounds Like Teen Spirit was shot at the 2007 competition, tracing the trajectory of several finalists who have triumphed over some 14,000 initial contestants from across the European Union. The climactic broadcast is shot from a Rotterdam stadium of 6,000 audience members. From Cyprus to Serbia, the fame and ecstasy of representing their country produces mind-boggling showstoppers of gaudy costumes and choreography, the film laying bare the hard won joys of victory and unavoidable agonies of defeat as experienced by these teens.

Sounds Like Teen Spirit had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and is the debut feature film of young UK documentary director Jamie Jay Johnson.

"Treated with just the right mix of affection and amusement sans condescension by debuting helmer Jamie J. Johnson, this irresistible crowdpleaser will be a sought-after fest item sure to score theatrical and broadcast sales in relevant EU countries and beyond." - Variety

Thu 7 May - Sun 10 May 2009
Of All the Things  
Jody Lambert, 83mins, USA, 2008, Digital Betacam, Source: Shot Clock, USA

The second music film to hold its Australian premiere as part of this month's First Look program is Of All the Things (2008), a documentary portrait of song writing sensation of the 1970s and 80s Dennis Lambert.

Dennis Lambert was one of the most successful and diverse songwriter/producers of the 1970s and '80s, with hits like the Four Tops' 'Ain't No Woman Like The One I've Got', and Glen Campbell's 'Rhinestone Cowboy', as well as 'Don't Pull Your Love', 'Baby Come Back', 'One Tin Soldier', 'Nightshift' and 'We Built This City'. He had chart-toppers in almost every genre of music, at one point four of his songs were simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, a feat previously accomplished only by The Beatles. Although Dennis has had the world singing along to his words for decades, his own voice remains relatively unknown.

However, it turns out his obscure 1972 solo album, Bags And Things, is huge. in the Philippines! A Filipino concert promoter, who has been begging Dennis to tour for decades, finally convinced him to visit in 2007, thirty-five years after the release of his album. A perfectly settled 60-year-old family man selling real estate in Florida, Dennis packed up his tour bus and hit the road with a film crew poised to tell one of the most unique comeback stories ever told.  

Jody Lambert, Dennis' son is the director and co-producer of this film, his debut feature. When Jody first heard of his father's tour, it provided him with all the encouragement he needed to make the film. "As a kid growing up in Los Angeles, I didn't think my dad's career was anything special. It wasn't until I graduated from New York University, and was living in the East Village as a struggling actor/writer, that I realized the magnitude of what my dad accomplished - creating a diverse body of work that has endured for decades."

Clearly proud of his fathers' achievements and keen to showcase his talent, Jody has produced a hilarious and touching pop/rock/country/R&B documentary that follows Dennis on his whirlwind tour as he rediscovers his passion for music. The two-week adventure takes him from the comforts of Boca Raton, through the remote outer islands of the Philippines, to a sold-out show at Manila's famous Araneta Coliseum for thousands of fans he never knew he had. 

The film had its world premiere at the 2008 South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival and has since screened at 2008 Sarasota International Film Festival, where it won the audience award for Best Documentary, Nantucket Film Festival (winner of Audience Award for Best Feature Film) and the Palm Beach International Film Festival (winner of Audience Favourite Documentary) as well as screenings at AFI Fest, Woodstock Film Festival, and festivals in Hawaii, Sao Paolo, Nashville, Nantucket, Palm Beach, Maine, Berkshire, Memphis and at the Crossroads Film Festival.

"A thoroughly engaging doc. a celebration of contributions by an unsung hero of pop culture." - Variety 

Movie site:
Dennis Lambert: 

Thu 14 May - Sun 17 May 2009
Youssou N'Dour: I Bring What I Love
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, 102mins, USA, 2008, 35mm, English, French, Wolof, Arabic with English subtitles Source: Madman Entertainment

The third offering in ACMI's First Look music documentary series throughout May is Youssou N'Dour: I Bring What I Love (2008), a film about one of Africa's most prominent musical exports.

International collaborations with Peter Gabriel and Neneh Cherry (7 Seconds) enhanced Ndour's status as one of Africa's most famous voices yet it is his powerful personal music that captivates the world. He is passionate about using his fame to draw attention to a range of political issues, from human rights at Amnesty International concerts to global poverty at Live 8. In 2007, N'dour was listed as one of Time Magazine's one hundred most influential people in the world.

This remarkable film follows N'dour as he releases his deeply personal album Egypt as an expression of his Islamic faith. N'dour becomes the centre of controversy when religious conservatives in Senegal denounce his decision to perform during the holy month of Ramadan, also deeming the album blasphemous. I Bring What I Love tells the story of how N'dour rises to these challenges and eventually wins over audiences both at home and abroad.

From the wild beats of his nightclub in Dakar, Senegal, to mesmerising performances across the globe, young director Chai Vasarhelyi captures with clarity this intimate portrait of a warm and charismatic performer.

I Bring What I Love premiered internationally at the Toronto International Film Festival and was met with critical acclaim. Earlier this year it screened as part of the Adelaide Film Festival. 

Movie site:

Thu 21 May - Sun 24 May 2009
It's Raining Pleasure
Steven Levett, 126mins, Australia, 2008, HDcam, Source: The Project Group Courtesy: Steven Levett

The final First Look for May is a local offering, It's Raining Pleasure (2008), a 'rockumentary' capturing the reunion-tribute concert of seminal Australian band The Triffids.

The 20-year reunion concert was also a tribute to founding member and chief songwriter David McComb on the tenth anniversary of this death. McComb died aged 37 in 1999.  

Filmed during a four-night reunion that took place at the Metro Theatre as part of the 2008 Sydney Festival, the remaining members celebrate in song McComb's genius from Bury Me Deep In Love to Wide Open Road to exclusive unreleased later works. The tribute is also a who's who of Australian performers with each concert peppered with special guest performances, including appearances from Mick Harvey of The Bad Seeds, The Church's Steve Kilby and Rob Snarski of the Blackeyed Susans.

The five remaining members of The Triffids talk to camera about life as a band, share personal stories of McComb and speak of his legacy, with contributions from Aussie rock legends to present-day artists such as Toby Martin of Youth Group.

The Triffids were inducted in the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2008

It's Raining Pleasure is the first feature length documentary by Sydney producer/director Steven Levett and enjoyed its world premiere at the 2009 Adelaide Film Festival.

Movie site:

More information and session times will be posted soon here

Further information

Claire Butler
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2415 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 654
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