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Music Films At Woodstock Film Festival

 

Woodstock is synonymous with music, so it makes perfect sense that one of the highlights of the Woodstock Film Festival is a series of highly anticipated music films. The films range from folk to rock to punk and everything in between, and are often accompanied with live music performances (another Woodstock staple).

Festivities kick off Friday evening with a live music event featuring the “father of Ukulele hip hop”, rapper/songwriter Jon Braman, Jim & Liz Beloff, and special guests. The musicians are in town to celebrate the world premiere of Mighty Uke, a feature documentary by Tony Coleman. Before rock and roll dominated radio sound waves, the ukulele was the most popular instrument in the American home.  Braman, the three-time regional finalist in the Mountain Stage New Song contest, has awed audiences with his one-of-a-kind blend of acoustic, melodic grooves on his baritone ukulele, coupled with the hardhitting, political rhymes of a conscious MC. Coleman’s Mighty Uke film, (produced by veteran director Ron Mann (Grass, Go Further, Comic Book Confidential), travels from Tokyo to London to the streets of New York, tellingthe story of ukers who are changing the music of their culture and connecting with the past.

On Saturday night, following the East Coast Premiere of The Perfect Age of Rock N Roll, a drama starring Lukas Haas and Peter Fonda directed by Scott Rosenbaum,a quartet of veteran bluesmen who are featured in the film will celebrate the roots of American blues and rock music at the film’s after-party. Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins, Sugar Blue, and Bob Stroger  will be joined on-stage by Bob Margolin, blues legend Muddy Water's long time guitarist.

The FOCUS ON MUSIC FILMS section includes other films of note as well. Neil Young Trunk Show is directed by Academy Award- winning director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Stop Making Sense). This is Demme’s second documentary about Neil Young  (2006 Neil Young: Heart of Gold); this special film showcases Young's soul in the musical and spiritual sense, catching lighter moments on-stage and backstage with band-members and family.

When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors is the latest film from veteran indie director Tom DiCillo (Living In Oblivion, The Real Blonde).  Narrated by Academy Award-nominated actor Johnny Depp, this doc is award-winning writer/director De Cillo’s first feature length documentary. It masterfully weaves a tapestry of historic never-before-seen footage chronicling the band from their formation in 1965 to the death of lead singer Jim Morrison in 1971.

  1. Harlem Aria, directed by William Jennings, is an urban fairytale about Anton (Gabriel Casseus), a mentally challenged young man from Harlem, who dreams of becoming an opera singer, just like his idol, Fabiano Grazzi (Paul Sorvino). No Good Reason, directed by Michael Mierendorf & Lawrence Marshall follows songstress Natalie Merchant who has less than three days to arrange and record a song featuring musicians and singers who are currently or recently homeless. The new song from the film is featured on "Give US Your Poor," a new CD featuring homeless artists collaborating with such big names as Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Jewel, Bonnie Raitt, John Sebastian, and many others. The film precedes the East Coast Premiere screening of Without A Home ( Dir. Rachel Fleisher), an inspiring documentary about the homeless in Los Angeles.
  2. Music We Are is the world premiere of a short, but potent documentary by Woodstock resident Mirav Ozeri, providing a rare look into the creative process of legendary Grammy-winning jazz drummer/composer Jack DeJohnette and musicians Danilo Perez and John Patitucci as they create their latest album. Trimpin: The Sound of Invention, directed by Peter Esmonde, explores the life of German musician and inventor Trimpin, to uncover the roots of this eccentric genius. The film follows the amusing creator as he experiments with inventing new objects and concepts that constantly reinvent the musical world. OOOM: Out of Our Minds is a stunning musical journey, occurring in three time periods. This exciting short was conceived by musician Melissa Auf der Maur (Hole/Smashing Pumpkins) and birthed by filmmaker Tony Stone (Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America) this mini epic is proudly self-produced and shot in the Hudson Valley on high definition video fueled entirely by solar power. 
  3. Music is definitely the thing in Woodstock this weekend........ 

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor

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