16/ january 14th, 2010 _ to film? (from la paz, about health, mogwai, rem, lhasa…)

From La Paz, Bolivia, in quest of Luzmila Carpio, and some other andean sounds. A little post about live music films, their useless aspect, and ways of approaching Croatan in troubled times.

2010 starts in a very very weird way, clues to an instable year to come - praise this. Feels a bit weird writing on a blog. But let’s keep it unsentimental, let’s not make the machine human, it’s a lie. Not losing time on words, more for walks and wanders. Oh yeah thoughts about cinema and music, remembers, again and again, repetitions of the same. Progressive souls, conservative bodies hum. Let’s have a little noise.

HEALTH is one of my favourite live bands. Probably one of the most stunning live acts you can see those days. While thinking about doing something with them, the difficulty of organizing a very last minute show outside the Nouveau Casino, for what was their last show of the tour, made us just stay inside. More to come i hope, but this little 12 minutes edit should represent quite well their energy, and is by far my favourite ‘live stage’ piece. Please listen with headphones, and watch in the dark.

I have done a few films about live music on stage, though, and while never entirely satisfied with the results, tried to reach a certain ‘abstract’ feel, documenting less and less the moment, trying to reach more that ’space’ of images and sounds intricated, as ‘Outer Space‘ once changed my life - what do i see, what do i hear?. The main critic to bring in front of the live films is the poor ambition of its social interaction - the process doesn’t make us different, doesn’t change us. I wrote a lot about it in this blog but the point is still there - what’s left of the experience, apart from a recorded souvenir?

History of live music films gets pretty far back - ‘Jazz on a summer’s day‘ by Bert Stern, first film to really approach live music. The past 50 years have seen their bunch of documents of music on stage, everybody got his favorite, amongst Woodtock, Gimme Shelter, or the often-praised Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense by Jonathan Demme. A few ones tried to carry more than the objective boring aspect of relating a night (Meeting People is Easy, Instrument…). Not my role to make an history of it anyway, ride the wave.
Let’s put it clearly - it’s a dead end. An absolute wrong direction in terms of cinematic feeling and hybridation of creations, which unfortunately too often takes the attention of poor viewers dedicated to the ‘importance’ of the event. We are all conniving hey.

When Mogwai, with whom i already collaborated on a short piece the year before, Adelia I Want to Love (co-directed by Teresa Eggers) asked me to film their NY shows to make a live dvd, the challenge was very exciting though - Mogwai being definitely the band you can not film. Mogwai is sound, Mogwai is emptiness of image, Mogwai is something in your head when you close your eyes. What could we (with co-director and amazing editor Nathanael Le Scouarnec) add to a Mogwai live experience, to such an organic feeling?
The challenge was of course lost before - but the result, ‘BURNING’, a 50min movie to be released soon with a live album of the scottish band, is something i am really happy with - we tried to push the limits of representations to a certain radical point, an almost hypnotic experience. A film to be seen on big screens with big sound for sure. Better than a 3D experience dudes.

While premiering ‘This is Not a Show‘, the REM live movie i made with Jeremiah, in Minneapolis a few months ago, someone asked me why this esthetic, strong black and white, huge contrasts. LOTS of blacks he said.
I guess it’s all about the ‘loss’, the dissimulation of informations, the lack of elements, of details - in a way, to get back to that shadowy relationship with the live act you have when you really go see a show - do you really always open your eyes during the show? or do you try to reach in yourself something else to make a connection?
Where is the memory? What do we need to remember after all?

2010 started in a very sad way - we lost Lhasa. She has been a huge influence on many people around the world for the past ten years, changed many lifes. She had this unique thing in her, deep in her soul - her voice seemed to carry many other souls, many stories untold. She will be forever in hearts and minds of many people. I will be forever grateful to her, David-Etienne and the people in Montreal for the little films we did earlier in 2009. It changed my life to meet such a beautiful person.
2010, we lost Rohmer, Sandro (oh god how i loved him), Bensaid, Mano Solo, Dennis Stock, Jay Reatard, many others already. The world is accelerating, bringing deaths with him.

2010, ok. We know you are the tipping point.
To the andean spirit. Yalla.

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