Our friends and partners, Beat Film Festival, have been for several consecutive years introducing the latest documentary films about music to the audience across all Russia. This year the British Council is a partner of the regional version of the festival Beat Weekend, which will take place from 1 to 4 October in 15 Russian and CIS cities. Its primary venue in Moscow will become the Formula Kino Evropa cinema.
The programme includes the films participants and winners of prestigious international film festivals all around the world, among which is the work of the British director Timothy George Kelly “A city is an island”, the portrait of contemporary Montreal and its music stage, from which grew up such artists as Arcade Fire, Grimes, Mac DeMarco, Patrick Watson and other stars.
Besides, the festival will present the film about a famous beatnik writer William Burroughs “Burroughs”; the work “B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin” dedicated to the club capital of Europe on the eve of the Berlin wall fall; “Station to station” – film-performance by famous American artist Doug Aitken, and finally “Salad Days” - desperate history of Washington park, born in the administrative capital of USA and anticipated the boom of alternative music of 90-s.
The cities where the Beat Weekend will take place: St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Vladivostok, Minsk, Krasnoyarsk, Kazan, Rostov-on-Don, Kaliningrad, Yaroslavl, Voronezh, Samara. The final list of participating cities will be announce on the 1st September.
The festival organiser - Beat Films Company which annually holds Beat Film Festival, is engaged in documentary film renting (the most famous is “Cool and forever” about Egor Letov), as well as organises special viewings and film screenings together with cultural institutions and venues.
A CITY IS AN ISLAND
Director: Timothy George Kelly
A few decades of recession left Montreal scattered with cheap and abandoned warehouse space in the early 1990s, and while rent prices skyrocketed everywhere else, the city turned into a haven for independent music and creation.
The film focuses on the vibrant noise-rock scene of DIY communities, record labels, and loft venues. The Anglophone immigrants among them formed a discrete cultural community in that of Francophone Montreal.
‘A City is an Island’ explores this loud body of people, temporary migrants and permanent outsiders, and provides intimate interviews and performances, undigging the beauty, hope and contradictions of an influential music community.
The film is an uncompromising exploration of an independent music scene unintegrated with the culture surrounding it, made with the same DIY ethos that its subjects apply to their music.
B-MOVIE: LUST & SOUND IN WEST BERLIN 1979-1989
Directors: Klaus Maeck, Jörg A. Hoppe, Heiko Lange
Music, art, and chaos are intertwined in the documentary that features young Nick Cave, Tilda Swinton, Blixa Bargeld, and New Order. These are just a few among the now internationally-known musicians who came to Berlin in 1980s, when the city became a melting pot for both sub- and pop-culture.
‘B-movie’ is a fast-paced collage of mostly unreleased rare footage from a frenzied but highly charged creative decade: there is Blixa Bargeld, skinny as a rake, getting people drunk in the bar ‘Risiko’, and an earnest-looking Nick Cave collecting ‘German Gothic’ on a wall of his room in a Berlin flat.
The story is told by Mark Reeder, British musician, label-maker and military fetishist came to Berlin at the end of the 70s to witness the adrenaline rush of a city.
It all starts with punk and ending with the Love Parade, in Berlin where the days are short and the nights are endless.
BURROUGHS: THE MOVIE
Director: Howard Brookner
The only feature doc about the legendary author, born just over 100 years ago, exploring Burroughs’s life with an intimacy never before seen and never repeated.
It was initially released in 1983, but just over two years ago, the late director’s nephew Aaron Brookner launched a Kickstarter campaign to restore the film.
Covering Burroughs’ time in New York, Tangier, London and Mexico, following him in unconventional travels across continents, and witnessing him turn from “full out junkie” into a literary legend, the documentary is notable for its experimental style and unprecedented access to Burroughs.
Allen Ginsberg and Patti Smith are just a few on the list of illustrious cast of the feature.
Among other quirks, the technical credits include illustrious classmates of director Howard Brookner: Jim Jarmusch as sound recordist, and Tom DeCillo as principal cinematographer.
STATION TO STATION
Director: Doug Aitken
A train travels 4,000 miles across North America with a revolving community of artists and musicians who collaborate on recordings, artworks, films, and 10 "happenings" across the country.
The project involves a 24 day, 4000 mile cross-country train ride between New York and San Francisco. Director Aitken's introductory segment provides somewhat of an overview for his vision, and the subsequent one-minute blips blend seamlessly with the feel of the scattered views out the window of our own train car.
Director: Scott Crawford
The Kickstarter-funded film documents the rise of hardcore in Washington DC, when musicians released their own records and booked their own shows—without major record label constraints or mainstream media scrutiny.
‘Salad Days’ is written and directed by Scott Crawford, music journalist and graphic designer, who began publishing punk fanzines as a 12-year-old in DC in the 80s.
The film is set to feature Ian and Alec MacKaye, Dave Grohl, Henry Rollins, and includes exclusive archival photographs, concert footage and interviews with dozens of bands, artists, label owners, fanzine publishers and others who helped mold and nurture DC’s underground community during this inspired decade of music.
Thirty years after it started, Washington’s original DIY punk spirit serves as a reminder of the hopefulness of youth, the power of community and the strength of conviction.