Thursday, 7/4/2019

All together now!

Music-Themed Films at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN

All together now!

Music's ability to bring people together is one of the most beautiful things we can experience in our everyday lives. Going to concerts together, seeing our favorite bands, and sharing musical discoveries with friends are experiences that create bonds and happy memories. There are a whole series of music-themed films at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN this year, many of which focus on a community.

No fewer than three films are about choruses that are sometimes more, sometimes less randomly assembled but that all coalesce into units that form a real identity. The best-known of the three choruses is without a doubt FISHERMAN'S FRIENDS. Based on the true story of a chorus of fishermen, this film introduces us to a few mature men in an English village who sing old shanties for their own amusement, but who become a genuine sensation — with a top-10 album.

In the Danish tragicomedy OUT OF TUNE, the men are more or less forced to come together, as the recreational activities offered to prison inmates are rather limited. Songs are warbled while knives are sharpened; after all, everyone wants to be the chorus leader. Foremost among them is jet-setter Markus Føn, a former entrepreneur who is behind bars for fraud and who refuses to let others tell him what to do.


While those two chorus films take a very humorous approach, the German two-parter THE MASTER BUTCHER is a very serious affair. This adaptation of a novel is about traumatized losers of World War I who move to the United States in the hope of a better life. Even abroad, one needs a few reminders of home: German sausages and German songs at which an informal group of singers give their best shot in order to have a sense of community far from home.

Community exists at home, too, of course. Take LEIF IN CONCERT: in this partially improvised film, we spend a fun evening in a jazz and blues bar, meet strange regulars, chat with friends and acquaintances. And who knows? Maybe even Leif will come by — the Danish musician whose concert everyone's waiting for. And during such a wait, people often talk to others they'd never have met otherwise.

Music as something that brings people together also has great significance in CRESCENDO #MAKEMUSICNOTWAR, in which concerts given by an orchestra comprised of young Palestinians and Israelis take a strong stand in favor of reconciliation during difficult peace talks. In a time of marginalization and smoldering conflicts, this German drama offers encouragement to work together to create a better future.

Not the future, but the past, is the subject of two documentaries about musical titans. In VIER, Germany's most successful rap group, Die Fantastischen Vier, talk about the challenges and triumphs of a career that's far from over. MYSTIFY: MICHAEL HUTCHENCE, on the other hand, recalls a singer of exceptional talent who departed life far too early. As lead singer of the Australian band INXS, he made music history in the 1980s and ’90s, but constant life in the spotlight demanded a high price.


For those of you who want to hear (and see) more music history: hip-hop fans can look forward to the miniseries WU-TANG CLAN: OF MICS AND MEN, the first two episodes of which are showing at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN 2019. The eight monks of rap not only look back on their lengthy career; they also demonstrate that they haven't forgotten how to perform their razor-sharp verbal acrobatics. A hot tip even for viewers who don't have much in common with the cult band.

As important as music is to films, sound design incorporates quite a bit more, as Midge Costin, a sound editor for various Hollywood films, shows us — or, more correctly, lets us hear. Her documentary MAKING WAVES: THE ART OF CINEMATIC SOUNDS takes us on a tour of the history of film, reveals the tricks of the mixing board, and gives a say to plenty of big names in film directing and sound design. George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and David Lynch are among those who reveal how important sounds and sound effects were in their films, even if no one ever noticed — until now.