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American Film Festival

The inaugural American Film Festival will be held in the heritage town of Wroclaw, Poland from October 20 to 24, 2010. It is the first film event in Eastern Europe exclusively devoted to contemporary and classic American cinema.


Music In The Air At American Film Festival


Music is definitely in the air, or at least music films, as the American Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland enters its second day. Last evening, DJ Spooky (aka Paul D. Miller) presented his extravagant multi-media presentation REBIRTH OF A NATION to a sold-out crowd at the Helios Cinema, as the Opening Night Attraction of the American Film Festival.

A remash and remix of the notorious silent film by D.W. Griffith, DJ Spooky added sonic layers of rich depth and imagination to the film's existing soundtrack of music from the award-winning classical troupe The Kronos Quartet. By layering in hip hop tracks, drum sets, blues fragments and what can only be described as "atonal industrial noise", Spooky offered a unique one-off film-plus-concert experience, that he expanded doing dj duties at the after-party at the chic nightclub Eter Club next door. Revelry continued into the wee hours.


REBIRTH OF A NATION is only one of several music-oriented programs on tap this week. In the documentary SOUNDTRACK FOR A REVOLUTION, co-directors Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman trace the influence of "protest music" as an integral part of the campaign for human rights by American blacks in the 1960s. With music and interviews by such acclaimed musicians and singers as Harry Belafonte, Mahalia Jackson, Wyclef Jean, John Legend, Joss Stone and Richie Havens, the influence of the music to the struggle is wonderfully paralleled, making clear how music can be used as both an organizing tool and to convey the essential message of the cause.



In RIDE, RISE, ROAR, musician/activist David Byrne, once lead singer for the influential 1980s group The Talking Heads, is lovingly profiled by director Hillman Curtis. The film traces Byrne's music roots as well as the founding of the Talking Heads, an influential new wave "art band" that he created along with fellow bandmates Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison and Tina Weymouth. The group became one of the most popular of the New York music school of the 1970s and 1980s, with musician/producer Brian Eno bringing a magical touch to these best known record albums of the period. Since the breakup of the  group, Byrne has become a solo artist, also dabbling in publishing, filmmaking and new media entrepreneurship. The film chronicles his 2008/2009 concert tour in support of his solo record "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today", again produced by Brian Eno. The film brings to life the dynamic multi-media nature of the concert events in all their extravagant glory.


THE WRECKING CREW is both a personal and musical portrait. Director Denny Tedesco focuses on this little known group of Los Angeles musicians who played back up to some of the industry's leading musical giants of the 1960s and 1970s including The Beach Boys, The Mamas and Papas and Sonny And Cher. The fact that these professional musicians were often kept in the shadows because the lead groups did not actually play musical instruments adds a layer of mystery to the entire film. It is also a personal story, since the director's father was one of the most consistent in the roving band of studio musicians. The film features terrific music sequences and interviews with leading music artists of the time, filling in a little known corner of the famed music industry.

Add to the above films the musical soundtracks of the contemporary American features and documentaries being showcased here, and one has a fine survey of the impulses and talents of the new American music scene that cannot be heard on the radio. For more information on the full program of the American Film Festival, visit:

Sandy Mandelberger, Festival Dailies Editor




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