An Island – A film by Vincent Moon & Efterklang
Posted In: An Island, An Island - A film by Vincent Moon & Efterklang, Efterklang, Josh Atkin, Nils Frahm, Peter and Heather Woods Broderick, Vincent Moon
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The term Cinéma vérité or film truth was coined by French filmmakers in the 1960s as they sought alternate means to telling stories to those of Hollywood movies. Production techniques did not rely on star actors, sets or props nor special effects or big budgets. Cinéma vérité films comprised of non-actors, often used handheld photography, and actual homes and surroundings as their locations.
Over the last 40 years, the Cinéma vérité movement has evolved, with documentary filmmakers often using the same “laws” to explore their subjects. One such person is Vincent Moon, a Parisian independent filmmaker who has made his name for documenting musicians by employing similar techniques. In addition to music videos for mainstream artists like R.E.M and Arcade Fire, Vincent Moon has developed his unique approach to capturing music on film through his Take Away Shows. Here Moon effectively constructs music videos by shooting one take recordings of musicians performing in unusual settings. In 2009 he was commissioned to direct ‘Burning’ a concert film for the group Mogwai. A much lauded film, since then Moon has been on the road exploring the marrying of sound and vision.
Last year, the Danish group Efterklang released their third studio album, ‘Magic Chairs.’ Universally acclaimed and widely revered the album enhanced the group’s reputation of having a unique approach to song writing. The coming together of both Vincent Moon and Efterklang therefore represents an exciting prospect, and we’re delighted to offer a review of ‘An Island’ which is the product of their collaboration.
The film was born out of the idea of creating a video piece the same duration as an album and one full of experimentation and performance. Shot on the island of Als over just four days, the film features music from the ‘Magical Chairs’ album and includes over 200 local musicians, kids and parents.
Commencing with an eerie collection of silhouettes of the group on a small boat looking out to the horizon, a gentle drone slowly builds in the background. We see shots of birds in the sky as the background noise builds to its crescendo, announcing the film’s opening. Shortly after, black and white shots of the world passing slowly take form.
The style of this opening sets the tone for the film as a whole. Throughout we witness a structure that blends from often hauntingly abstract photography with minimal sound or dialogue to some incredibly uplifting and engaging live renditions of Efterklang songs.
Indeed this is typified when we are given a brilliant insight into the capturing of field recordings. The group are seen traversing through an old farmyard recording organic percussion sounds through drumming on iron gates, tapping on machinery and even stomping in the mud and collecting raindrops. From this a short story is told about two boys driving on a cart to school. We see one of the band members waking through a forest tuning a radio settling on some classical music, before the film progresses to the group on the back of a cart singing the song ‘Raincoat.’
Here we witness a collection of people seeming in love with the creation of music. As the cart moves through the forest, and the group clap, strum guitar and sing in harmony, there is not only a great sense of cohesion between the performers but a genuine passion for their performance.
Throughout we are treated to cameos from other familiar musicians with regular Efterklang contributors Peter and Heather Woods Broderick featuring prominently. In another heart warming musical rendition we see Nils Frahm create music with a broom as Vincent Moon expertly directs his camera around the inside of the barn.
The film itself looks beautiful, successfully showcasing the capabilities of digital video. In addition to the ambient shots of scenery, Vincent Moon also employs clever techniques to the live musical performances often linking visuals to the short lines of spoken word that precede the acts. In the barn scene old people seamlessly replace the position of some of the musicians who were originally playing. We also see school children perform in tandem with the group after hearing a short interlude on growing up, while the final performance takes place in a high school auditorium.
Here, a handheld camera weaves through the crowd, while the band appear out of focus in the background. As the camera approaches the stage, a chorus of students sing directly to the camera. Moon then guides his camera backstage and eventually on to the platform itself. The once audience-facing chorus now sing in direction of the musicians. With the music over, the camera tracks Efterklang walking off stage and into the evening outside, bringing the film to its conclusion.
In what is both a brilliant film and also a fine exhibition of musical talent ‘An Island’ successfully captures the artists’ intentions to create something unconventional and abstract. This however does not interfere with the films accessibility. If this is indeed an example of contemporary Cinéma vérité, then we should be excited by the truth it depicts as we witness a film maker who magically captures the animation, devotion and unconditional love these musicians seemingly have for the sounds they create.
- Review by Josh Atkin For Fluid Radio
Photography by Antje Taiga Jandrig
03.02 – Basel, CH / 1.Stock (Bar/Klub) / free entrance
06.02 – Albertslund, DK / Forbrændingen / free tickets
09.02 – Lisbon, PT / MusicBox / free entrance
11.02 – Rennes, FR / La Route du Rock Festival / Conservatory / tickets
13.02 – Belfast, UK / Crescent Arts Centre / free tickets
18.02 – San Francisco, US / ATA / $6 donation on entrance
21.02 – Bristol, UK / Cube Cinema / screening only / free entrance
22.02 – Cardiff, UK / The Globe / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
23.02 – Sheffield, UK / Queens Social Club / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
24.02 – Glasgow, UK / Oran Mor / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
25.02 – Manchester, UK / Academy 3 / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
25.02 – New York City, US / DCTV / free tickets
25.02 – Oberhausen, DE / Kino im Walzenlager /
26.02 – Newcastle, UK / The Sage Gateshead, Hall Two / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
27.02 – London, UK / Scala / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
01.03 – Brussels, BE / Botanique / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
02.03 – TBA
03.03 – Uppsala, SE / Uppsala Konsert & Kongress / Sal C / free entrance
03.03 – Lyon, FR / Epicerie Moderne / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
04.03 – Aarau, CH / KIFF / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
05.03 – Basel, CH / Hinterhof / + Efterklang (live)
05.03 – Reading, UK / South Street Arts Centre, MacDevitts Studio / free entrance
06.03 – Zürich, CH / Stall 6 / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
08.03 – Vienna, A / Szene / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
09.03 – Kosice, Slovakia / Tabacka Kulturfabrik / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
10.03 – Prague, CZ / Meet Factory / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
11.03 – Leipzig, DE / Centraltheater / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
12.03 – Bremen, DE / Lagerhaus / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
13.03 – Berlin, DE / Volksbühne / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
13.03 – Oberhausen, DE / Kino im Walzenlager /
14.03 – Frankfurt, DE / Brotfabrik / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
15.03 – Dortmund DE / Konzerthaus / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
16.03 – Hamburg, DE / Knust / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
17.03 – Rostock, DE / Mau / + Efterklang (live) / tickets
20.03 – Copenhagen, DK / Amager Bio / + Peter Broderick (live) / 30kr at door
29.03 – Warsaw, PL / Powi?kszenie / + Peter Broderick (live)
30.03 – Krakow, PL / Drukarnia Kolory / + Peter Broderick (live)