London Word Festival Part 2 (March 7th to March 25th 2009)
Frank and forthright Dutch filmmaker David Kleijwegt premiered his documentary âThe Eternal Childrenâ this evening to a crowded room in Dalstonâs CafÃ© Oto. The man behind the DVD documentary âLow: You May Need a Murdererâ enjoyed applause from a fascinated audience after the consecutive airing of each film, and then opened himself up to a Q+A from the audience after an interview with Plan B journalist Emily Bick. Kicking the night off with his first film on Low. T... (continued)
Frank and forthright Dutch filmmaker David Kleijwegt premiered his documentary âThe Eternal Childrenâ this evening to a crowded room in Dalstonâs CafÃ© Oto. The man behind the DVD documentary âLow: You May Need a Murdererâ enjoyed applause from a fascinated audience after the consecutive airing of each film, and then opened himself up to a Q+A from the audience after an interview with Plan B journalist Emily Bick. Kicking the night off with his first film on Low. The documentary follows Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk on the road largely to a soundtrack featuring excerpts of their album âDrums and Gunsâ, often with their toddlers in tow playing venues, visiting their Mormon church and taking in landmarks from their youth. The couple whoâve known each other since they were nine, and became childhood sweethearts completely underplay just how significant and impactful their brand of mournful melodic âslow coreâ music has been to date. The documentary title taken from the beautiful, elegiac masterpiece âMurdererâ â a song about killing in the name of faith, features heavily in the film and power of faith and the couples bond features heavily, but there are also humorous moments such as Sparhawk trying to make a serious point in an interview with his son in his lap trying to put a toy snake in his mouth. Fundamentally this is a loving and happy family despite Sparhawks addiction issues. Later in the Q+A Kleijwegt stresses that a documentary maker isnât there to make friends with his subject but rather to create, an essence â a truth, of what the subject is about, often leading to unwelcome surprises for those in front of the camera.Â Parker didnât realise the extent of Sparhawkâs delusions during a breakdown until she saw him talking about it later on film. Sparhawk, passionately expressive about his views on where he feels society andÂ economy are heading (scarily prophetic about the bust, three years ago) can barely make eye contact with the camera through out the film. Itâs intimate, low key movie inviting the viewer to be a voyeur into the lives of two unshowy but deeply religious, talented people who take simple ingredients and combine them to make something meditative and beautiful. When talking about music Sparhawk concludes, â Music is bigger than you are, it still comes back at you forgiving and loving.â Kleijwegtâs second film â The Eternal Children,â is a much more energetic, colourful affair detailing the âfreak folkâ movement through the eyes of 61 year old Vashti Bunyan, the Casady sisters Sierra and Bianca in Coco Rosie, solo artist David Basinski, British born Antony Hegarty (Anthony and the Johnsons) and the metro sexual folk performer Devendra Banhart. The opening scene of the two sleek, giggling bohemian born Casady sisters who make up Coco Rosie biking down a dusty, sunny road bouncing on their front tyres and talking about fairies cutting their hair in their sleep, sets the tone from the outset. Itâs like the psychedelic 60s all over again, except the players have got cannier and now the Internet exists. Tonight was the movie premiere, and though this isnât available to buy on DVD, clips are viewable on You Tube. Itâs worth seeing this if only enjoy the joyous rendition of Coco Rosie and Antony Hegarty singing a song called â Bouncy Balls.âÂ Hegarty went onto win the Mercury Music Award in 2005 with â I Am a Bird Now,â and this film reveals him to be articulate, intuitive and insightful into what was happening in the post-grunge music scene in America and where he himself sat in the schisms he could see emerging. The dulcet voiced, softly spoken Vashti Bunyan may not be a household name, but youâll have heard her song Diamond Day, her album title track on a recent T-Mobile advert and probably not have known. Her seminal album was reissued several years ago and captured the imagination of one displaced American, Devendra Banhart living hand to mouth in Paris, and inspired him to pen her a letter and send a demo. The ties that bind this movement together are inspected and connected and youâre left wondering what it must be like to eschew the mortgage, the pension plan and the 9 to 5 routine and be a gender bender musician who makes home movies with their lover skipping in the fields, experimenting with the sounds of toys on a 4 track and in the case of sisters Sierra and Bianca Casady singing the words â watermelon juiceâ in glorious, feline ripples in their makeshift studio over and over again, before finally pressingÂ a clunky stop button. Itâs a vivid study of a unique time in the experimental folk movement, where the unusual had a chance to explore music and the results be celebrated, and interesting to discover from Kleijwegt that these players experienced more tolerance and success in Europe than in their American homeland which tagged them with ridicule. For Kleijwegt despite taking the time to earn the trust of his subjects by simply observing for a number of days before an interview, making this film at times proved to be challenging, with Banhart in reality alternating between entertaining and then surprisingly suspicious as a interviewee. Hegarty by contrast in reality was lucid and likeable. For all the charm and sweetness seen on screen, you can only wonder what was left out, and here lies the true power of the filmmaker, in shaping our perceptions and relationships with the subjects of our fascination. What you see on screen isnât always what you get.
London Word Festival