WTJU DJs Mother of Pearl (late of The Garage Sale, Saturdays 2pm) and Ramona Sparks (Black Circle Revolution, Thursdays 11pm) shake some action at the Virginia Film Festival this weekend by hosting music documentaries.
Downtown at the Regal on Thursday Nov. 3 at 10pm, it’s Better Than Something: Jay Reatard. Mother of Pearl introduces this 2010 documentary about Memphis’ late, lamented garage-punk icon.
Same place, next day! At the Regal on Friday Nov. 4 at 9pm, Ramona joins director Amy Oden for a discussion about women in punk following Oden’s 2011 documentary From the Back of the Room.
Festival Programmer and Production Coordinator Wes Harris has put together a package of several music themed films, many with strong local interest:
We Are Astronomers
Thursday 4:30 p.m., Vinegar Hill
Discussion with director David Dillehunt.
For nearly fourteen months, local filmmaker David Dillehunt followed the rising Charlottesville-based music group Astronomers, capturing a wide array of live performances, recording sessions, and countless candid moments. This sharp, often humorous documentary traces their path to notoriety from solo, coffee house beginnings in Texas, to the historic Jefferson Theater, culminating in a stellar CD release show at The Southern Café and Music Hall in Charlottesville. Join band mates Nate Bolling, Alexandra Angelich, David Brear, and Graham Partridge for a truly entertaining, musical journey that showcases this talented group on its search for stardom.
Better Than Something: Jay Reatard
Thursday Nov. 3, 10:00 p.m., Regal 3 Downtown Mall
Introduction by Nathan Ragain (U.Va.).
Better Than Something is a feature documentary about the controversial and prolific garage rock icon Jimmy Lee Lindsey, Jr., better known to the world as Jay Reatard. This intimate portrait, captured just months before his untimely passing, brings us incredibly close to Jay’s complicated punk-rock world in Memphis, Tennessee. Better Than Something eloquently interweaves cinéma vérité with interviews and archival concert performances, and features scenes from an insightful and candid week spent with Jay, who reveals personal childhood stories and the struggles of life in Memphis.
From the Back of the Room
Friday Nov. 4, 9:30 p.m., Regal 3 Downtown Mall
Discussion with director Amy Oden and Emily Sloan (U.Va.).
Where are all the punk women? Filmmaker Amy Oden chronicles the last 30 years of women’s involvement in the Do-It-Yourself Punk movement through a series of intimate and honest interviews with its earliest pioneers and latest innovators. The documentary looks at the trailblazers who paved the way for the seminal Riot Grrrl movement of the mid-90’s and those who have carried the movement forward since. This insightful and hard-driving film exposes the stories behind these heroes of third wave feminism while addressing a variety of issues ranging from race to gender to sexuality, motherhood, class and beyond.
Friday Nov. 4, 4:00 p.m., Vinegar Hill
Introduction by Enrico Cesaretti.
The Neapolitan music of southern Italy holds a special draw for acclaimed director John Turturro. His film’s lively camerawork lets the vibrant and often chaotic music do most of the talking. The music featured in the film shows the influence of many foreign cultures: Greek, Arab, French, Spanish, Norman, and American. Passione celebrates the tonal blending of a city that resembles New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro, and Havana in terms of musical commingling. The sounds transcend the primal emotions of love, hate and lust, ultimately lamenting pertinent social issues of poverty, protest, and politics found everywhere.
Alchemy of an American Artist
Saturday Nov. 5, 4:00 p.m., Vinegar Hill
Discussion with director Marc Adams.
This is a journey down the fantastic, sometimes brutal, mind of Charlottesville artist and musician Christian Breeden as he meanders along the unpredictable path to creation. Starting with his family and followed in turn by music, love, madness, art, and finally reflection, the filming process leads him to brood over his difficult past and his awakening future of sobriety. The sometimes difficult to watch footage is shot guerilla style - hand held and lo-fi - so as to lower the impact the effect the camera has on the participants of the documentary, drawing out honest reactions and raw emotions.
Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour
Saturday 10:00 p.m., Regal 3 Downtown Mall
Introduction by Jen Siomacco.
This energetic documentary follows iconic feminist electronic band Le Tigre on their 2004-2005 international tour throughout four continents and ten countries. Supported by a community of devoted fans and led by outspoken Riot Grrrl pioneer Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill), Le Tigre confronts sexism and homophobia in the music industry while tearing up the stage with their performance art poetics, no-holds-barred lyrics, punk rock ethos, and whip-smart wit. Avoiding the constrictions of both the mainstream and the underground, the band has never believed that fun and intelligence couldn’t coexist.
The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground
Sunday Nov. 6, 4:00 p.m., Regal 3 Downtown Mall
Discussion with band member Frank London and Joel Rubin (U.Va.).
*London will be in residency at UVa Nov 6th-12th and on air with Joel Rubin at WTJU Wed, Nov 10th on Left of Cool.
This elegantly informed, feature-length documentary follows the Grammy-winning klezmer band, The Klezmatics over four years on a journey stretching from New York to Israel to Poland. The documentary showcases the background of the musicians and their creative process of forming a music that is a meeting of Yiddish language, Hasidic dance, gospel music and Woody Guthrie. The Klezmatics have appeared on shows ranging from “A Prairie Home Companion” to the PBS series “Great Performances.” The film shows the band’s relentless quest to redefine themselves ever since their start in New York’s West Village in 1986.
Sunday Nov. 6, 1:30 p.m., Vinegar Hill
With a performance by the New Covenant Pentecostal Church choir.
“You got to think ridiculous when it comes to Christ!” exclaims Bishop William Nowell. For over 30 years, the preacher has presided over a small African American congregation in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the diminutive 72-year-old struts, shouts, and sings his electrifying message. But Nowell’s role in the community is deeper than that of religious leader. The New Covenant Pentecostal Church provides financial advice, emotional support, food for the needy, and rollicking, blues-infused gospel music—never more powerful than when performed inside the local jail. Preacher alternates quiet, soul-searching moments with jump-to-your-feet performances, creating a movie that inspires, regardless of your beliefs.
There look to be tons of great films showing all over town from November 3-6, and we’re definitely psyched about these! Here’s the rest of the Virginia Film Festival Schedule.