Thursday, June 28, 2007
OK back to Friday
My next venture was a solo pilgrimage across the wastes to see the most talented member of the Wainwright family – the mighty Martha.
No I could not persuade any other person to go to this!
The sun came along with me though.
Fuck off Krossie!
I took a great liking for the new Park Area – programmed by Michael’s daughter Emily Eavis, in general, I have to say.
Very few folks hanging around for this one.
Bean searbach we say in Irish:
A bitter woman.
But can she weave the straw of heart break into the shadowy, spun gold of gold that will make yer heart ache?
YES she can.
Without doubt the most intense gig of the festival – almost too intense betimes
Before things get underway she insists on not using a radio mike
And the roadie snaps to - instantly inserting the old fashioned lead.
Possibly cos he knows only too fucking well “that she’s half crazy” as some other bard once put it.
Forty minutes of cussing, and singing like a beautiful, badly damaged but still flutterin’ angel and she has another roadie rescue the joint rolled and thrown just short by a kindly fella in the crowd. She (bizarrely!) sticks it into the neck of her guitar lights it and launches into a crowd pleasing rendition of ya Bloody, muthafucking asshole.
She tells us she’s getting married soon .
44% of marriages end in divorce.
They’re the lucky ones according to Bob Dylan’s brilliant radio show!
– Oh goody - so much new material…
Now a lot of folk don’t like Martha.
Hey that’s fine - music is very subjective.
It moves me to actual physical wrath when I hear people say she can’t sing!
Certain things are easily verifiable and one of those is that her vocal range and depth and intonation are nothing short of astonishing.
But maybe she just jumps from one end of the scale to another a little too fast - she gets thrown purely on the number and scale of her own transitions.
Or, maybe, there is just a physical limit to the amount of pain that one human voice can carry.
After some tasty scran (don’t let anyone say different there is a lot a lot of excellent food in Glastonbury)
While I munch I listen to schlomo
He does human beat-boxing pretty well.
Not much more to say!
I find myself somewhat mysteriously wandering back to see brother Rufus on the other stage. In a lovely striped suit he delivers some beautiful arrangements and I have to say I enjoyed it a lot. I am even more pleased when he summons his sister up for a fairly ragged version of Jerusalem – but hey who hasn’t heard that number just too many times!
They make a good team though – mannered, trained, beautiful voice v crazy, raw beautiful voice and I like the way he looks out for her.
Back to the Park for its official opening ceremony and surprise (!) guest Lily Allen.
As if her vapid, semi literate, vacous whining wasn’t enough (and it surely is - I’ll give ya al-fresco ya dozy cow!)
– MIA has been cancelled to make way for her.
Jaysus – sickening disappointment.
More about “surprise” guests later
Death to surprise guests!
Meself and Paul bleed off and move down agin’ the tide as the masses rush up from the other stage.
…To find ourselves in the Glade.
Oh ho - a discovery!
While Bondo De Role have been whipping it up for the masses in Brazil – the imperialist motherland has been working on its own version of Baile Funk. These Portuguese geezers were called Buraka Som Sistema. They were utterly infectious fun with a roundy black female rapper/ranter/singer/grinner and a skinny young fella doing the most scarily acrobatic dancing ever – cartwheels head spins – you name it!
Trick of the day persuading us all to crouch in the mud and then leap up in the air in a coordinated fashion.
Mind you get a good class of punter in Glasto who take these things in their stride!
I repaired back to the tent for some sleep and then Lost Vagueness and Bjork – who did a decent stadium gig with really nice versions of some of her best stuff.
No Anthony from the Johnsons though. But there was also an astonishing green laser with a range of, jaysus, 2 million kilometres maybe.
I can see for miles and miles says a texter…
Then I went into a frenzied Jack Daniels trip which finally knocked me out at about 3 am.
Such a perfect day
and It hadn’t rained since four in the afternoon!
After providing us with a chemically enhanced review of the 2004 festival, our roving raver Krossie is back with some more installments in his Glastonbury romance. All photos are pulled from this deadly Flickr collection.
Mad Scientist: Very Vell - If a vay can be found, in which, through radical agitation of the slippy mud – a partial transition can be achieved to gloopy mud we can create ze new hybridised super mud which will first of all cause zeee slip sliding avay but also trap zee victim by zeee vellies achieving a miraculous double torment for zem!
Michael Eavis: Well what have you got for us in the way of mud this year my bofin-tastic friend?
M.E: Could it last?
MS: Ze super mud vill be highly unstable at a mol ecul ar level BUT perhaps a unique combination of ze persistent light rain with occasional short clearances it can be maintained as zeee mtestable complex… But also veeeeee vill be needing zeee many feet with wellies to go tramp, tramp, tramp and then pound and pound and pound like this, like this, like this AHA HA ha ha ha ha!
M.E. That’s my knee you’re hitting
M.S: Sorry…Its just recall ze good old daze – free reign for experiments many vict…subjects for da procedures….ja ja JA! Vell
M.S: Vell can ve proceed with these procedures – vit this new a different type of experiment ?
M.E: Yes….I do believe it could well be possible…YARR
That’s nearly all from me on the mud. I could bleat and moan and make comparisons with the battle of the Somme or Napoleons exit from Moscow, maybe the last chopper out of Saigon 1974. But this is to be mostly about the music of which there was much – a lot of it pretty decent too! However for a brilliant general article on the buzz of Glastonbury and what it involves try Charlie Brooker’s cynical but very accurate Guardian review.
(Warning contains cursin’ like- recommended for childish readers, copyleft but maybe put in a link to my Myspace.
6.15 am – Persistent rain since 4 has killed of the last sound system – thank jah for small blessings – sleep comes…
9.30 am – Awake to an interesting roasting tent scenario
– Mr Sun has arrived?
(boffin laughing in the distance…)
10 am – 12 pm rain pours like there is no tomorrow.
Strangely there never seems to be any correlation between the weather and the appearance of the sky in Glastonbury – impossible to call it – experimental weather, mental weather!
Adopt random wander strategy -
First up Tor Dogs play their guilty pleasure cover versions on the Jazz World stage
Of course comrade Nietzsche assures us that there can be only innocence in the taking (and even giving) of pleasure.
In this case full marks Nietzsche – stinking Neil Diamond covers remain stinking Neil Diamond covers – what ever you chose to call them.
Pleasure and guilt definitely ride smoother in separate vehicles methinks.
In the new Park Stage which the younger Eavis is later to officially open - the Ralph band make a tolerable racket up to a point.
The sun arrives back.
Upgrade opinion to “decentish 70s mush”.
The sun goes
– So do I.
Wandering to the dance area for two bands I want to see the weirdly monikored !!! (chk chk chk apparently is how ya say it) and eighties acid pioneer A Guy Called Gerald.
Catch the Cribs en pasant by the other stage.
First wander around the tents to sample random DJs.
Ok break-beat seems to rule the British dance scene for now.
Punters already pleasantly mashed going by them eyes!
Crap dance music proves yet again vastly superior to crap guitar music.
Whoops - Me boots after 5 years service spring a leak – rush off for girly wellies which serve very well for the rest of the festival. Dump boots.
Glasto tip wellies >>> any other footwear including yer sophisticated 2000 quid ultra hiking boots.
They are the dogs for squelching through any conditions.
Dance tent East.
The DJ playing when I get in is called caged baby.
He should have been
(as in shoulda been caged - baby – ah ya get my drift?!)
Of he goes and out hop
Its 4 pm for you guys but its 4 am for us…they tell us…
Jaysus these guys turn out to be quite a proposition – a 28-32 legged limbed and lithe, gay funk monster from straight outa New York city – they rock out from the first chord.
The gadging about of the gangly lead singer in his massive yello wellies and his disreptutable buddy with the weird beard are a joy to behold.
He seems to have at least four extra vertebrae and be convinced that his mike should function as a spare portable cock.
Some what in the Rapture/LCD sound system mode they duck and dive around the stage like the Happy Mondays circa 1989
“tell your friends out there we’re the best mutha fookin band in the world”
he tells us bigging up their next night’s show in the Glade
(even better it was too I’m told!)
Well there ya go - now I have
– who could argue with him!?
A great start.
The sun comes out
Off across the mud track to the slightly smaller Dance Tent West…
Now who here has heard of a Guy Called Gerald?
Hmmm not many…
Who owns an early 808 state album?
Or a ground breaking piece of ambient Drum and Bass called Black Secret Technology?
To be honest I was shocked he was even playing.
I was shocked there were so many people.
But I wasn’t too shocked that it was an incredibly good gig!
His style still has much of that eighties funky percussive groove to it. In the daze before rave when house was techno and everything was subtle, funky and based on locked grooves. The tunes proceed by way of crunchy but slightly wonky industrial baselines, tinny acid squelches weaving in and out and pin point hits of 808 drum machine. The final weapon is the very occasional use of awesomely beautiful vocal samples.
He’s not adverse to throwing in lines from Detroit Grand Pubah’s sandwiches, Boogie wonder land and even an awesomely treated and isolated sample of Sylvesterout of the 1970s classic “you make my feel mighty real”?
This was the best moment for me as he froze out the entire track except that one highly treated highly pitched voice filling the tent with its
“feeeeel real, feeeeel real, feeeeel real, feeeeel real” - beat kicks in – frenzied crowd response. Finishes with a very silly version of 1988’s chart hit Voodoo Ray.
John Peel would,without doubt, have been somewhere at the back, just smiling and nodding his head…
Ah John Peel ya had to remind me!
(What’s the fucking deal with the John Peel stage eh eh?.
Drab indy smindy bollix from bands who’s names all start with “the”
Is this what I listened up for every night on my tiny radio with the crap medium wave signal and the telly smacking it around into a whistly mess?!?!
I don’t think so.
And here’s the news flash
–Yeah John Peel did Occasionally play the Wedding present
He ALSO played The Bhundu Boys, Bikini Kill, Napalm death, Mantronix, Public Enemy, Tackhead and any form of minimal techno, acid, drum and base and gabba gabba break core noise terror he could get his mits on!
The fucking Peel stage was sickening insult to the mild mannered Liverpudlian and everything he stood for in the breadth, depth and range of his courageous musical meanderings.
Who ever or what ever fuck wit put together this atrocity exhibition should be fuckin lead out to a place not far from this court and there…..
Krossie is taken away up to the healing field where a team 17 trained, battle hardened psychologists fail to talk him down for over 45 hours)
OH wait, wait
NOOOOOO NOOO no noooo noooo NoONoooooooo…
I didn’t see any of kasabian, Maximo Park, Lily Alen, Babyshambles, The Arcade Fire, the fookin Manics (jay sus wept!), The Who, The Killers, The Kooks, The Gossip, The Kaiser Chiefs, The Twang, The New Pornographers, The Artic Oasis beatles Monkeybabywipes (what ever!) or, indeed, anything on the Pryamid stage ha ha
Because they are bloody useless in my view that’s the why
Is it because you is a lonely snobby muso git then?
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Again I think some version or other of this appeared in the latest Totally Dublin. This unedited interview contains a couple of hundred extra words, it's probably littered with spelling errors too. The photo to the left shows Rick Caine and his co-Director Debbie Melnyk, and the second captures a Saturday afternoon rush during the festival.
Rick Caine has been running the gauntlet of controversy across the documentary festival circuit this summer with his latest production Manufacturing Dissent. Sirring the pot first at South By South West and then Toronto’s Hot Docs, it's an acerbic look at the work of Michael Moore. Intended to explore what made a cine idol tick, along this journey Caine and his co-director Debbie Melnyk discovered that behind Moore's everyman malcontent facade lies a ruthless technique of self-creation. One that has left reeling friendships and burnt bridges, never mind a body of work stained by half truths bent for effect and out of context interview splicing. Caine, now based in Toronto where we caught up with him at the recent Hot Doc's Festival, is far from a neo-con detractor. His work is less a critique of Moore's politics than of his method, he simply believes power shaking documentarians must cling to a truth ethic or risk blowing their own foundations, and worse that of those sharing their views.
Yes, of course. Documentaries now play side by side with formulaic Hollywood fare in many cities and suburbs right across the world now. Michael Moore has played no small part in this documentary renaissance. His breakthrough documentary Roger & Me was the first time that a documentary was released outside of the traditional "art house" documentary ghetto. Of course wider audiences are interested in these kinds of films, but Hollywood has traditionally had the distribution channel sown up.
How has Hollywood sown up the distribution channel and can documentaries do much to challenge this?
At any given time 92% of the films showing across the world are American Hollywood films. There is of course much yet till to be done to break this monopoly and documentaries have no small role to play in this regard. And for documentaries, as a genre, it is ironically the best of times the worst of times. Michael Moore is amongst those on the best of time side of the equation.
His last film, Fahrenheit 9/11, had a production budget of US$6 million. The film grossed $125 million in the US and about $220 million worldwide. By any objective measure a remarkable and unprecedented accomplishment. But I also say that it is the worst of times because Hollywood still so thoroughly dominates the box office that we are currently in a situation where one can go to film festivals and see remarkable documentaries but all-too-frequently they will not be coming to a theater near you. Instead we will continue seeing Spiderman 3, Shrek 3, and on and on.
So while documentaries are struggling to escape the ghetto, Hollywood continues to fill theaters with entertaining, unchallenging, vacuous fare that audiences can choose to see or not go to the movies. It is still rare where there is any other option. But Michael Moore is among a select group of documentary filmmakers who are making progress in changing this dynamic. And we who believe think that once audiences get a taste of something else out there, that genie won't be put back in that bottle again.
So what is it that documentary making does better than your standard Hollywood fare?
One thing documentary filmmaking does incredibly well is that it can share the human experience of one person with other human beings, bringing us all closer together and strengthening our human bond. From a PR standpoint documentaries are a nightmare because PR is interested in only a one-sided truth, the white lie. Whereas documentary filmmaking aims to expose lies and not make them. But PR and advertising are interested in only the positive spin: Toxic sludge is good for you, light cigarettes don't cause cancer and you can eat almost nothing but bacon and lose weight (the Atkins diet).
And because we live in a world full of these white lies and one-sided truths, fuelled by big budget advertisers and well funded special interests we are all hungry (starved!) for the unvarnished truth. I have a friend that says the truth ain't couth but as we all have heard it can also set you free.
Immediacy, portability and the power of images. The medium, documentary filmmaking, is inherently powerful. Marshal McLuhan said the medium is the message. We've all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, and this was written before the advent of the moving image. Documentary filmmakers are able to use feature filmmaking techniques to examine the messiness that is humanity, all the while with images trumping words, very powerful stuff. We don't write about the Iraq War, we take you to the front line. We don't describe the suffering of someone who has lot their son in war, we capture and then show you the experience and allow any audience to experience it first hand.
Another reason documentary filmmaking is such a powerful tool is it's portability. Al Gore can only be lecturing about the threat posed by global warming/climate change in one place at one time. But with a film his message is instantly accessible now and forever. And watching a film is a communal experience. Unlike passive Hollywood films that entertain but don't provoke thought or action, documentaries can stir the masses to action. Sometimes when documentaries end the discussion and action is just getting started.
What should documentary makers do to make sure they are using this power instead of abusing it?
Always bear in mind that no matter how passionately you feel about any given social/political issue your values are not worth selling out just to make a point or to manipulate or mislead your audience into agreeing with you. The end does not justify the means. Do you think it's wrong to lie? Then don't do it. If you think it's important to treat others the way you'd like to be treated? Then don't take interview subjects out of context.
If a filmmaker chooses to tell the truth so many of these other things take care of themselves, including using the power instead of abusing it. It is occasionally painful to adhere to strict compliance with things like decency, fairness and truth but by disregarding these kinds of restraints the filmmaker ultimately does himself, his audience and sometimes his cause a disservice.
So with Michael Moore in mind, what are the consequences of the abuse of this documentarian power?
Part of the contention of our film is that when Michael Moore lies he gives the opposition a club with which they can bash everyone on Moore's side. "See they don't care about the truth. See they don't want honest political debate." If we think that the US president lying to the American public is not the way forward, how can we believe that the solution is having the opposition lie as well. Two wrongs don't make a right.
The title of the movie is a nice play on a Chomsky book title, after this movie will your aim remain on mainstream media shenanigans as it has with Junket Whore's expose of entertainment journalists lick arse relationship to PR and the Citizen Black portrait of media baron Conrad Black's cataclysmic fall?
Our next film is going to be fiction, but still in the same vein. It's about Lester Bangs, co-founder and music critic of Creem Magazine. Now he is the polar opposite of Michael Moore. He couldn't help telling the truth, he had an almost childlike honesty and was hated by many bands because he was so honest about their music. He died of an unintentional drug overdose at age 33.
How did the movie move from being a biography of Moore to a critique?
We always hoped that Michael Moore would cooperate in our look at him. Being political fellow travellers and Canadian and we'd heard thru friends that he liked the channel we'd been commissioned by to take a look at him, CHUM Television. So when Michael Moore's people began giving us such a hard time on a certain level we couldn't believe it. It was about this same time, approximately 4 months into our filming that we really started to struggle with our original concept and we felt we were at a crossroads. We began asking ourselves are we non-fiction (documentary) filmmakers or or we just going to stick with this sort of official biography about Michael Moore?
So when we hit this fork in the road we felt that morphing the project and going a different direction felt more like the truth than our original concept. So we changed it. But I have to say this is part of what we really love about non-fiction filmmaking. If one sets out in search of a story and it turns out to be something different then you're free to follow it. When we discovered so many skeltons in the closet, we felt we had no other choice than to turn it into an examination or critique of his methods and techniques and what the implications are not just for documentary filmmaking but for society.
We realized that when Michael refused to do an interview we would also have to follow him around to try and get any footage of him and soundbites to use in the film. We didn't expect his team to be bullies. When we realized what they were doing, trying to stop us from doing our film, we thought we should include it in the film because in a way, by showing the behind the scenes of a documentary we were getting at another level of truth. We couldn't believe when we got kicked out of Kent State and we thought others would find it shocking as well. We also felt at a certain point that documentaries should expose lies and not tell them. And if they chose to lie then they are part of the problem and not part of the solution. We regard this as the crucial issue of our time. We all want to live in well functionng democracies. That in turn is dependent upon a well informed electorate. And that depends on media that chooses not to lie and mislead the public. The horrific implications of this are obvious when one looks at how FOX News covered the lead up to the Iraq War. They don't even try to hide it. Roger Ailes was the head of the republican party and then he is runningand then he is running FOX News, doesn't get any more obvious than that. Fair and balanced my ass.
Before seeing this movie people might paint you as a neo-con detractor, didn't Fox News try and use you like this only to get a swift surprise?
FOX News assumed when they read about our film that we were in agreement with their agenda, which we aren't, and they also erroniously assumed that even if we weren't political fellow travellers that they could still use us to expose Michael Moore. For them the equation is really simple: If Michael Moore is wrong then ergo we must be right.
So in the lead up to our film premiering at the SXSW Festival several FOX News shows, both TV and radio, were chasing us insisting on interviews. We didn't want FOX to own the story and so we declined all requests from them. But then once the film had premiered at SXSW and other major media outlets had done interviews with us like CNN and MSNBC we agreed to go on a FOX News show because it had the name "Live" in the title (The Live Desk with Martha McCallum or something like that.) But we were cut off in short order after I starting discussing how some major news organisations, hello FOX, were not telling the American public the full truth and how that was causing problems for democracy and I remember I heard them in the IFB I had in my ear screaming "Get that asshole off the air."
Just after they pulled the plug (we were interviewed remotely and not in their New York studios) the cameraman looked at me and said "They had a five minute segment planned, but I think it run just under two minutes." "That was my fault," I said, "Guess they didn't want to hear what I had to say." From my point of view though this was a good thing. Where the right-wing U. S. media had been all over us now the only right leaning members of the U. S. media who called was because they wanted to argue with me, which I have done on their radio programs and what not.
As that post-Seattle wave of protest fades into memory and piss poor re-enactments, one of it's lasting cultural hangovers is the activist flick. One only has to think of the cinematic vision entailed in The Corporation's systemic critique of the profit motive to see the activist flick genre done well, working as both a propagandizing tool for the politics of horizontal practice adopted by social movements in countries as disperse as Bolivia and India it also incubated Utopian hopes for the west.
Punk The Vote is Roach from Eye Steel Films meandering attempt to expose the theatrics of a Montreal political process that cared little for the poverty he experienced in his youth leading him to run in the municipal elections. He presents the audience with a rather strange exposition of anarchist politics, intimately linking them to the punk sub-culture and a youthful rebellion he himself embraced, doing every bit the disservice of a mainstream media pre-summit hatchet job.
Roach's technique is loud and brash, mostly based on the eccentricities of his ego which he constantly pushes to the fore of the movie sacrificing both serious political critique for comic interludes and up front "punk as fuck" antics that rely on a cliched anarchist aesthetic. The movie ends up being a simply executed argument for proportional representation, which Roach confuses with direct democracy.
It is only as Roach is drunk on stage at a DIY show the end of his election run do we uncover that the actual purpose of the movie was to promote the homelessnation.org site, which acts like a brilliant online soap box for the homeless.
So without purpose, the movie ends up being a very apt encapsulation of what happens when activists touch elections - they eventually drift from their original movement concern to play the hodge podge game of media whore-dom. Confusing a drift to the centre of the political spectrum with political maturity all the while insisting on their own radical merit. I expected so much more from this. Anyway, I still managed to catch up with Roach for a short interview about the movie..
Not many people in
Ok... Well SPIT is the film about my life in the street. I met Daniel Cross (director of SPIT) back in 1998. He told me he was looking for a street kid to document this world (he had done "The Street: A film with the homeless" before and I knew he was a filmmaker and what kind of work he was making). So we talked and left for the civil disobedience against the MAI : Multi-lateral agreement on Investments. So I got arrested at this civil disobedience and when I got out of jail, Daniel gave me a Hi-8 camera, that became the ROACHCAM, and told me he was going to teach me film-making.
How does "Punk the Vote" relate to your previous film making efforts?
I don't completely understand this question (don't forget I am francophone) but PUNK THE VOTE is an evolution in my career. I did SPIT as an associate-director, then I did ROACHTRIP my first film as a director. This film was about me traveling across
How did you conceive of the "punk the vote" campaign was it as an excuse to make a movie or was it a political idea in and of itself?
It was actually an evolution. The film I wanted to do was called: "DIY: the
Yes I was aware, it was called "punk voter" but was not at all inspired by that. It was inspired by Liberal party corruption and the need for electoral change.
A lot of your movies start off as one thing, for instance Punk The Vote starts as a movie about Starbuck and ends up dealing with issues of representative democracy - are you conscious of these evolutions while making the movies or do you only come upon them while editing them?
No it is all natural... It arrives that way while we shoot. Don't forget that it is documentary and not fiction... What you see happened for real. Also the fact that I fought for proportional representation of the votes is also my ideology and I was in front of camera fighting that so of course it is the big fight of the movie, it was my whole program and the film is about campaigning. But things just happened that way.
You seem to associate punk with rebellion and political radicalism, do you think it is more so than other sub-cultures and if so why?
I don't get the question).. but punk is not unknown to provocation, social denunciation and revendicate (is that a word, in French it is). So yes I will always do that and my film will always say that I guess, we are here to demand change!
Huh??? I don't get it either.... I am an anarcho-Communist punk, and I believe in the people, not the power or profit. I am no politician, I am a filmmaker and an activist and I will always be there to fight against the injustice. Workers, poor and oppressed should all become one and take over this system. I believe that the working class are the deciders, and we should be the ruling class. I am no anarchist, I believe a lot in communism. That's why I am an anarcho-communist. But I really don't understand your question.
By the end of the movie you seemed quite close to the New Democratic Party, has this relationship not developed further and would the experience of electorally minded social democratic parties like New Labour in the UK and elsewhere not signal the dead end of reformism?
I still don't understand... But I had join the NDP 2 weeks ago, a year after I ran. I will never go with the party line, I will always use my freedom of speech. Even if the leader, Jack Layton tell me to shut up, I won't. We live in a democracy, and a country where freedom of speech is encouraged, so I will keep that freedom. Parties are less democratic than democracy itself. That is why I ran as an independent and that I will resign from the NDP if I am being told to shut up. I will never stop to say what I have to say and to attack my enemies, politicians!
The annual Hot Docs Festival took place from April 19th to 29th earlier on this year in Toronto, and some version or other of the following material may be familiar to you from coverage published in the latest Totally Dublin...
Before Morgon Spurlock's grease laden death diet and Michael Moore's spot-on vendetta against neo-conservative America were banking the big bucks as blockbusting summer successes, documentaries dealing with the hot topics of contemporary controversy were relegated to the art-house cinema and the rather infrequent silver-screen orgy of the film festival. For fourteen years now the Toronto Hot Docs festival has been setting the pace for the current explosion of socially minded documentaries, ripping through the mold to become one of North America’s largest documentary festivals.
This year it hosted over 129 films on a hectic ten day run, showcasing not just the North American but global documentary film making efforts that will filter down to the indie cinemas over the next year, or at the very least through your home broadband connection. In short, as Sean Farnel the festivals Director of Programming told me, it has “emerged from what was essentially an industry conference to one of the world’s largest documentary events.”
Compared to the quite aficionado only ambiance of most film festivals, Hot Docs is a bustling mess of crowds and queues. With over 70,000 admissions to this years assorted flicks, a "no guaranteed entry" system is compounded by the usual hesitation of buying expensive festival wide tickets. With rush lines stretched well beyond the norm at all weekend screenings, chasing seats became an adrenalinising experience all of its own.
The ground for the festival madness is laid through Toronto's envied year long indie-cinema culture, DIY theatres like the Brunswick screen three left of centre documentaries a day, leading to what Farnel terms "a very engaged, curious and open audience" in the city. Reflecting this mass documentary culture, Ron Koperdraad a coordinator for the festival over saw 250 volunteers who "mostly did it out of a love for documentaries, but also for the social reasons."
The audience award went to War/Dance, directed by Andrea Nix Fine it’s a look inside the lives of three orphans in an Ugandan displacement camp who find expression through the country’s national music and dance festival. Best International Documentary winged its way to Ulrike Franke and Michael Loeken’s tale of globalisation's Losers and Winners, a close up of the dismantling of a German smelting plant and its reassembly in China’s growing industrial hubs.
The festival also featured the debut of Morgan Spurlock’s latest look at our modern consumer shopapacyalpse in What Would Jesus Buy? Hooking up with long term icon of the no-brand, counter culture Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, he documents the cack handed Christians attempt to save Christmas from commercialism.
Gary Hustwit's Helvitica, due a Candy Culture Sugar Club screening on June 28th, examines the rise of a typeface as the embodiment of post-war values and their eventual inertia, crippled at the hands of post-modern concerns, creating a social history where no one thought possible.
Film fascination with favella poverty continued in the Made in Brazil programming stream. Kiko Goifman's Acts Of Men delivered a cooly executed jaunt into the criminal economy, with the massacre of 29 people by local death squads in the Baixada Fluminense township setting the background for impulsive interviews with the power players in one neighborhood's deadly games.
This South American concern was furthered in Arturo Perez Torres' Super Amigos, a comic portrayal of the real life super heros emerging from the Mexican popular classes obsession with luche libre, a theatrical wrestling satirized in Jack Black's Nachos Libre. In the social war against crippling poverty, movement heroes like Super Barrio and Super Gay have become unique icons of dissent and community organisation, warding off both landlords and homophobes.
If one director and film at the festival highlighted the transformative role of the documentary lens it was the formerly homeless street-punk Roach Denis and Punk The Vote. Roach's own life was the subject matter of the Daniel Cross classic Squeege Punks in Traffic. Intertwining biography with a critique of a Conservative governments brutal harassment of a new generation of homeless kids earning a buck cleaning windscreens at intersections, Cross provided Roach with a route out "I was in the process of getting out of drugs and out of the streets and needed a passion to quit all this and find a new life. Daniel gave me this passion through film-making."
Ten years later Roach is a well known filmmaker retaining the conviction he picked up on the streets. "Inspired by Liberal party corruption and the need for electoral change" he examines the theatrics of a Montreal political process that cares little for the poverty he experienced in his youth and runs in the municipal elections leading to " a film that had to be made. I am an activist, strongly politicized and fighting against this system since I was 14 years old. So it was just a natural shift I made, but it is also the best film I made in my career."
Hot Docs is critically minded to the core and a series of festival panel discussions wrenched into the existential heart of the documentary method to explore interviewing technique, political power and directorial responsibility. This tension was exemplified perfectly by the ultimate buzz movie of the festival, Rick Caine's portrayal of Michael Moore in Manufacturing Dissent.
Some selected shorts by young directors featured in the Doc It Showcase are now available for viewing online.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
So here it is, a Soundtracks for Them summer mix. With bits of baile funk, kudoro, old school rave, electro and club rap all lazily squished together with the powers of Sony Acid, so there should be something in it to satisfy one or two of you out there. Sorry about the unknown tracks, they were just things that were sitting around my computer for the past week or two, and liking them I couldn't really leave them out. I can't even remember where the hell I got them from to start with now, the Beanieman number however came from a reggaeton MP3 collection bought in Bolivia but it has no ID tags. Thanks to Nialler9 for the Kid Sister track, it's a killer.
Track Listing (71.5mb length: 39:04)
1/ Peter, Bjorn and John, Young Folks (Diplo Drums of Death Remix)
2/ Beanieman Unknown Reggaeton.
3/ Unknown Baile Funk, Impostra De Cur
4/ 2LiveCrew, Get It Girl
5/ Bondo De Role Gasolina (Buraka Som Sistema Remix)
6/ DeBonair The DJ Killer
7/ Josh Wink Higher State of Consciousness (TV Rock and Dirty South Remix)
8/ Technotronic Pump Up The Jam
9/ CSS Lets Make Love and Listen to Death From Above (SMD Mix)
10/ Yo Majesty Club Action ( Dj Paul V)
11/ Spank Rock Sweet Talk
12/ Justice Dance (Tittsworth Bmore Mix
13/ Drop The Lime Juggernaut
14/ Dj Branquinho Danca Da Maluca
15/ Kid Sister Control
16/ Thunderheist Suenos Dulces
17/ MIA Boyz
18/ Unknown Rock and Roll Is Here To Stay (Pulled from the DJ C Baltimore Mix)
19/ Lady Sovereign Hoodie (Alternative Medysne Radio Mix)
Download it NOW at Zshare.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Alongside panel discussions on how bands can grind the best use out of their myspace, the NXNE organisers put on a sequence of movies related to the industry over at the Toronto Film Board Building. Kevin Fritz's Wasted Orient was a quick paced look into disaffected youth in modern China, going on the road with Joyside the director documents the Chinese punk scene in all its drunken apathy as it turns its back on society with anthems like "Johnny Rotten" and "I Want Beer" that celebrate a nihilism born out of a hunger for western culture. Rock and roll as they described it is an "addiction to chaos," most of this hour long flick was spent in pursuit of getting trashed with all the skills of four Chinese Pete Dohertys.
Don Lett's George Clinton: Tales of Dr. Funkenstein used people influenced by the king of funkedelic like Macy Grey, Andre 3000 and some dude from Digital Underground to look at how that mothership of funk landed and a movement grew from barber shop quartets to mass funk freakouts of 70 or more contributers. Reaching well back, the best movie of the sequence had to be Living the Blues - an intimate portrait of a group of elderly blues musicians that remembers the racism and poverty of their depression era youth, the very period when they first got the blues as a "teller of truths."
Saturday: Toronto was pretty much kicking all weekend with this NXNE lark, most bars and clubs had 4am drink extensions and I can really be fairly accused of not making enough use of this pass business - opting instead for taking my chances on one venue for a whole night instead of bar hopping around. Harlem bore witness to some of the worst attempts at a call and response in a hip hop act during Think Twice's set on Saturday night, overly brash MC's found there was nothing they could do to move a disinterested crowd, appalling sound quality and choppy production probably explained it as well. It's numbing to see some one shout to a venue full of people "ye all want some more?" only for everyone to remain silent and look at each other awkwardly.
Ghettosocks has been touted as one of the hottest properties in Canada at the moment, bursting out of Halifax he's humorous as fuck and encourages the crowd to "Steal from Walmart" and read a booka-booka all the while rocking the off-duty accountant look he frames himself in with massive horn rimmed glasses. Is he worth the hype? Well I don't think anything could have worked for me in that Harlem shit hole.
Sunday: One night later and in the Drake, the two story epicentre leading to the gentrification of the Queen West neighborhood, it seemed like a purely Diplo sanctioned night with Bonjay, Thunderheist, YoMajesty and those hard rock head wreckers trying to pass themselves off as dance Lesbians on E all playing. I stupidly missed Bonjay, from listening to the few online tracks they have quite a dance-hall like feel to them, with a twist of heavy club electronics and bursts of chatting over the odd cowbell. They've quite a decent cover of "Staring at the Sun" over on their myspace and I was pretty gutted to miss them.
Thunderheist escaped me too, but the echo of their room shaking bass tracks wafted up the stairs to torture me in the queue before getting in. The crunching baltimore use of "Sweet Dreams" on "Suenos Dulces" over on their myspace is a perfect example of how they seem to work a club as well as something of an ode to reggaeton, part MIA and part-Modeselektor they certainly are ones to watch. There's not much that needs to be said about Tampa trio Yo Majesty except one of them was missing and they still went off with a fierce torrent of energy.
Dancers from both the Fat Femme Mafia and some nut from Kids on TV jangled their wiggly bits in some nude on-stage action as Yo Majesty taunted them on, harder and faster. What you have here is a queer and female Two Live Crew that rap about masturbation and partying to some pretty filthy grimey beats. After that it really was embarrassing to watch the hard rock antics of Lesbians on E, that band really wreck my head - iconic in the queercore scene, their outspoken identities lead people to excuse them for a real lack of musical quality. Cringing.
The Yo Majesty photo is nicked from the Beatle Jinny Flickr set. My camera is busted.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Day one of NXNE got off to a pretty late start for me. Headed down to the Holiday Inn to pick up my pass, the place was covered in abandoned swag as if people had just grabbed festival goodie bags and tipped them head over, dumping the reams of glossy crap all over the lobby and making off with the bag.
One interesting thing within was the lime green menace Sgt Solo, a small visual fuck of the classic children's army man toy. Instead of clutching a machine gun, the guy grips a guitar and the blurb at the bottom of the container goes;
"Plug in your weapon, turn up the power and fire away. Your limo is a Humvee and your ride is a Blackhawk. For over 50 years American stars have earned their stripes by performing for our country's greatest audience. Find out if you have what it takes to tour the world entertaining the troops with Armed Forces Entertainment."
You can insert your own anti-militarist rant in where ever you want, but I was left slightly in awe of this little fragment of the massive internal world of the US armed service. With recommendations running low I didn't have much energy to run around all over the place on the chance of finding something decent so remained in one venue for most of the night, that being Harlem where it was hip hop all night. With very small crowds performing that terrible circle in front of the stage, there were more free passes than not in sight with many people attending on their own for whatever reason.
Atherton were on first, something like a ska punk backing band hooked up to a hip hop MC, they're from Ottawa. Coming on heavy with the sardonic lyrical flow they nag about discovering empty bank accounts through that last ATM withdrawal, break ups and more. The energy they manage to drag up live really doesn't come across in their hollow sounding uploaded tracks on Myspace.
Wordburglar's a damn competent performer with enough panache to add movement to his words, and one of a whole army of Halifax hip hop artists in Toronto for the weekend. Unfortunately too much of his wit falls back on base homophobic innuendo that extracted the "ohhhhhhs" from a crowd mocked by this supposed daring. Don't even get me started on the price of beers in Harlem.
Photo nicked from the Wordburglar's Myspace.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Sometimes this blogging lark can lead to some very nice blags. As you might guess North By North East is something of a jealous sibling to the much larger industry junket that is the annual South By South West Festival, except with far more of a focus on the Toronto home grown. Armed with an all access pass for the weekend I've got to make some choices from this pretty insane looking list.
Is there anything here some of you would recommend before I get lost in unknown streets chasing cool names like Bourgeois Gypsies and Million Dollar Marxists only to find myself fiddled with acoustics and indie-fops? As most of this seems to be a Canadian showcase, I'll probably just take my cues from local free papers like Now. I'll try keep you posted with some day by day accounts of what goes down.
The photo above was nicked from the Yo Majesty Myspace, for some of the recent hype post SXSW alone I'll have to check them out.
Friday, June 01, 2007
Over the past few years Lady Sovereign has released a string of fantastic singles with some of the tastiest beats and production out there, so when the opportunity to see her play a relatively small club in Toronto comes up I'm not one to turn it down. Last Wednesday it was at the Social, something of a hipster haunt that revels in its location right beside run down Parkdale with its Midnight Cowboy feel and the mentally wounded perched in the ghetto cafes.
The Social laps this environ up and drips with the irony of how it's one establishment among others spearheading gentrification of the area. One of walls alongside the dance floor reads in gothic font "an allegory for the death of Parkdale as we knew it" while the other boldly states "welfare." The path outside is full of real fashion histrionics taking photos of each other, mostly in a sort of nu-rave attempt that falls over itself and ends up a mid eighties Don Johnson dipped in day glo paint with some sideline fashion advice from Zack Moris. No matter how spot on the opening DJ's are none of these are going to admit enjoyment until Lady Sovereign orders them into it later in the night.
When she does come on, she stalks the stage in over sized sun-glasses and a t-shirt with "Ding dong special delivery" in large slogan font at the front, first she forces her way through "Cha-ching," before complaining about hating "Random" - a song she claims she wrote at 13 and is the only thing people this side of the Atlantic ever want to hear. Bored she continuously rolled her eyes at the DJ, and moaned at the crowd. She gave us "Love Me or Hate Me" before cheering the place into sudden violence with "Public Warning" and a scream of "mosh, mosh, mosh" into the crowds face. The opening intro set by her DJ was the tightest blend of dubstep, hip-hop and grime I've yet to hear and while busied posing right up in the lens of the scattered cameras, you got bored and eventually just wanted him to take over.
This was only meant to be a mini-set, having stumbled on the El Dorado of pop, SOV plays to the kids at venues like the massive Air Canada Centre on Gwen Stefani's tour before scalping the hipsters for a four song set for twenty dollars on the door later in the night. Whatever about Def Jam and her attempts stateside, Lady Sovereign was both tired and cranky -reduced to more a UK curio and novelty act. It's hard to figure where she stands as an artist now. Not so long ago she entered into this rather depressing confession at a similar small club show about being broke in the music industry stateside and how she hates what she is doing. Her tour dairies are over here.
Side note: Haven't these fuckwits seen Nathan Barley? Are these people in Super Super and the rest of this documentary for real? It actually sounds like a piss take of Hadouken - am I missing something here?
I linked off to a mix by Drop the Lime some time ago, it's one I've made the soundtrack to most of my bike commutes. More recently I had the pleasure of finally getting to see this self-declared heavy weight of New York Bass deliver a set at Crosstown in Toronto. He stands well tall over the decks, imposing and lanky shouting random exhortations to the crowd alongside enthused introductions to what ever tracks he's introducing to the mix. All the time he is building a pummeling wall of bass, and with the higher end of the mix well dipped it's sometimes hard to make out the vocal hooks that continuously suck you in on recorded mixes.
To my own confused drunken mind it was like he was excavating through dance culture, pulling surprising Chicago house tracks out from way back when and reminding the crowd that "this was twenty years ago" before moving on quickly in a whole other direction: be it the guitar crunched dubstep of Distance's "Ska" or some doo wap sounding oddity. His "electro banger" alter ego Curses! will be dropping the debut EP My House Is haunted! on Paris floor quaking label Institubes in June. The bucko himself drops by Kaboogie on June 22nd to serve up B-lines to ye Dublin feckers in Kennedy's over on Westland row. His latest music video is also up over on the Trouble and Bass blog.
Can you remember your first gig as a DJ and how it went for you?
I was 17 years old my name was DJ Dysis at the time and I played for a jungle/drum&bass night with Soulslinger, Pish Posh and TC Islam - I was smashing it, until TC Izlam came on to introduce Soulslinger while I was still DJ'ing and he said "who is this kid that nobody knows? blah blah blah blah" - rappin' about how I'm some nobody opening for Soulslinger hahaha, mad funny.
When did you make the move over to digital DJ-ing and how did it change things for you?
I still DJ with vinyl as well as Serato - Serato is useful for playing out unreleased material and new tunes I'm working on.. it's a good way to test the tune on a crowd and see if its ready to go public or if it still needs work in some places - plus exclusives from crews that nobody has heard yet.
You were in a lot of bands as a teenager, what sort of music were these making and has any of it rubbed off on what you are engaged in now? What finally pushed you in the direction of dance music?
I was heavily influenced by bands like Can, Fugazi, Sonic Youth, and Brian Eno - the constantly evolving style and sound in all of those bands and artists has been a continuos influence on what I do now.. Every summer as a kid I'd go to Italy and swim at this public pool, the radio would always be playing shitty euro house jams.. "this is the rhythm of the night..of the night.. oh yeah".. so the dance music sound has always been an influence on my songs.
When I was like 14 a friend of mine from London played me this mix-tape of DJ Hype, and I lost it. From that moment on I got this jealous feeling about Jungle music and that made me want to DJ and produce it, I started going to rave parties back home in New York and got more and more into electronic music, my copy of Zinc's "6 Million Ways" and "Zion08" sound like white noise all worn out now, cuz thats what I learned to DJ on.
This is a knowingly stupid question - but what's bass music all about? I know its a vicous blend of bass heavy genres but why do you think people are throwing genre boundaries out the window and going hell for leather at it for heavy duty bass?
Playing whatever you want to play as long as it has a nasty bass-line. Thats what counts. Jumping all over genres in a night is more exciting to me than one style all night long, as long as what holds the night together is bass. If you brought me some klezmer track that had a growling sub bubbling bassline holding it together I'd find a way to make it work with a B more or Electro or old school Chicago House tune, just because the bassline was so banging.
Dubstep is a pretty UK heavy sound and you manage to use it relatively distinctively - throwing US hip hop vocals over Skream's "Request Line" for instance in one mix - but is there a danger people will just labour after it as a purist sound, retarding the potential for something real interesting to come from its spread?
People tell me this a lot. I love dubstep and DJ it here and there, but its definitely a UK sound - I think every genre takes the risk of becoming washed out once it gets attention outside of the DJ scenes and into the people's homes... it's just about constantly putting out fresh material and pushing boundaries that will keep it strong, not how its mixed in a DJ set. When we in the Trouble & Bass crew mix hip hop or club rap with Dubstep it helps Americans who are unfamiliar with the sound become familiarized with something new.
What are your feelings on this whole "new rave" thing cultivated by magazines like NME and hooked on bands like the Klaxons?
No Rave is the new Nu Rave was the old Neu Raev is now the neu! rayv!
In the interview Dirty Down did with you you seem pretty down on blogs that release tunes not to promote the artist but to "have the tune" as you put it - have you ever been burnt by blogs doing this or by releasing material before you wanted it released?
Yes many a time. Sometimes a tune will get leaked thats unfinished or un-mastered, and then a blog will put it up and hundreds of DJ's will download it and play it out, even though in my ears it wasnt read yet. Really though, I have been supported massively by blogs, and I appreciate that.. its just that sometimes it wouldn't hurt to ask the artist or their label if they can post a specific tune up.. we probably will say "yes"..just ask. Most blogs do ask me or labels I'm affiliated with, and those blogs are A top on my list. Dirty Down, 20 Jazz Funk Greats, Palmsout, Acid-girls, Slap you in public and Fluo - they've all asked and have been really supportive of DTL and Trouble & Bass
Do you get the chance to do much graphic design which is one of your other interests or are you just totally absorbed in music?
I do most of the cover designs, t shirts, posters etc.. that are attached to my music..
For a while there you were associated with the aul hyper active use of the amen break, what was it about breakcore that you eventually found limiting?
The amen break!
You seem to love NYC right, I'm not sure if you've heard it but on the new LCD Soundsystem album James Murphy gives the world a pre-Giuliani-era lament in "New York I Love You" - how do you think the city has changed since 9-11?
Giuliani didnt like us dancing. I was born here and feel close to the big apple. People are dancing again though, and this whole "no dancing" cabaret law is dwindling away like a weak joke. I don't know the LCD soundsystem song, but I imagine its a different image of the city than my image.. I grew up as a raver, but I heard James Murphy grow up as a Skankin' Pickle fan.
Just going on pictures of Trouble and Bass parties I've seen on the net, they look like fairly small but sweaty parties - have they gotten bigger and how do you think they compare to parties like Bangface in London?
We do large and small parties from 300 to 1500. But now, we are moving towards only bigger parties - the small ones have been too sweaty and crammed. This was our last one with our boys, Cut in May (photo courtesy of the Captain at Dirty Down and there's more here).
And finally - do you think the E-lock video will be something to be embarrassed about in 30 years time?!
I plan on doing a sequel in 30 years.
The photo of Drop The Lime is nicked from the Onwards Charles Blog.
About Soundtracksforthem specialises in iconoclastic takes on culture, politics, and more shite from the underbelly of your keyboard. A still-born group blog with a recent surge of different contributers but mainly maintained by James R. Big up all the contributers and posse regardless of churn out rate: Kyle Browne, Reeuq, Cogsy, Chief, X-ie phader/Krossie, Howard Devoto, Dara, Ronan and Mark Furlong. Send your wishes and aspirations to antropheatgmail.com
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