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Autoluminescent-No Sinister Intentions on BELDOCS

A documentary Autoluminescent: Rowland S.Howard  directed by Richard Lowenstein and Lynn-Maree Milburn is a music documentary that   holds upon remarkable interviews with Rowland S. Howard, who speaks intelligently about self-awareness and the life before Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds became a big band. A documentary is actually about the singer/songwriter Rowland S. Howard who was overshadowed by Cave in Berlin, and questions basically whether it is a good shadow. WE are talking about the period from the early Melbourne punk scene and early days of the band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It is a frequently misinterpreted cynical story about Howard’s revolutionary guitar playing, commented by Kevin Shield  from My Bloody Valentine, Thurston Moore from the band Sonic Youth and yes an American Henry Rollins  from Black Flag and it is basically about his early career playing in Melbourne, London and Berlin, utterly in the shadow of the Birthday Party and the well known vocal Nick Cave. The documentary is a skillfully overdrafted story about tragic romantic and frustrated artist, which what really made him a great  Howard, in a new surge of professional  fulfillment and recognition, prior his death in 2009.

The documentary also includes interviews with friends, family and colleagues and it features stars such as Nick Cave and Mick Harvey from the Bad Seeds then after all the great Wim Wenders who freely talked about the band who have had, with no sinister intentions introduced Berlin women with heroin. The film also has interviews with girlfriends of the band, etc. Lydia Lunch, which is pretty creative moment. But whether that is Cave's The Birthday Party or These Immortal Souls the result of this film is a remarkable portrait of Howard, an affectionate and complex drug addict and a wonderful musician in this engaging documentary piece. Of course the most important is the music that the band featured, leaving the legacy of time they lived in, which weaves its way through the great narrative. A wonderful piece that would, if shown on any other festival in Europe, any other festival but Eastern European post -war- overburden- festival, would make a great impact and win awards. Even so deceptively poetic just as Howards lyrics were, and even so I was in the FIPRESCI Jury of The Belgrade Documentary Film Festival BELDOCS, we couldn’t award such masterpiece music documentary.  

''I'VE been contemplating suicide… but it really, doesn't suit my style…'' is the opening lines of the song Shivers, written by Rowland S. Howard.

But here is a little something extra about the film. I always assumed that most of the indie musicians are actually Atheists or Gnostics or combination of both. And out of that assumption, there is a little theory that I have on my mind.  And if we are talking about film, the title of the film Autoluminisencts:Rowland S.Howard bothers me a bit. But let me explain.  Autoluminisencts  is a word that is associated with the Gnostic movement that had certain affinities with contemporary methods of study of (human being), which is in this case I think, also more reference to a modern psychotherapeutic techniques. So I think that the authors of this film Autoluminscents:Rowland S.Howard wanted to discuss via this documentary about the high price of the artistic realization and self-knowledge (self awareness) of Howard, that is in particular, an intimate perception of one's personality: the Howard’s personality. A person who experiment with it, in this case, lets say the musicians of the band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (experiencing) a sensation like they are under the influence of impulse (stimulated with drugs) that they do not understand. And, if we remember the mythology, we are talking here about the Greek myth and of how the world was born when the wisdom, the mother of all beings, was taken away from their own suffering. All four elements according to a Greek philosophers, are making the world (earth, water, air and fire) and are the concrete forms of the wisdom of experience. Howard’s price paid in this case, was a heavy drug addiction (an experience) and possibly premature death. His death and the death of many other musicians of the same milieu, can be interpreted as the price that the holder of this belief brings upon their great success and fame.

But according to this documentary, Howard was not satisfied. Many Gnostics said that such a person (unsettle one) is experiencing deficiency, something opposite the satisfaction. Because, according to this, the dissatisfaction is ignorance, which has knowledge that can disappear: where on the other hand, likewise appears as performance satisfaction. The ignorance of some people is a form of self-destruction, as it is indeed the case with Howard, as well as many other celebrated musicians. So let say their form of self-destruction and the price to pay, is of course, the drug addiction. In this film, interviewed also mentioned the effect of drugs consumed by the band that have had on their confidence and perception of reality, and is really about the perception that gradually reveals, if an effort’s made: Recognize what is before your eyes and what is hidden and you will be discovered. This is a solitary and difficult process because the person is struggling with internal resistance. The resistance, according the Gnosis is characterized as a desire for intoxication, or not being conscious or in sleep, which also, if we expand this theory for further on, can be a Biblical reference depending of the personal belief.

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