The second ever XPN Music Film Festival exhibits diversity

"Twenty Feet From Stardom," a documentary about back-up singers, is one of the films in the second ever XPN Music Film Festival
“Twenty Feet From Stardom,” a documentary about back-up singers, is one of the films in the second ever XPN Music Film Festival

There aren’t many music film festivals in America, claims Roger LaMay, general manager for XPN-FM. There are a few in Europe, and there are festivals — like SXSW — that dedicate a chunk of their programming to films about music. But one of the few devoted entirely to music is the XPN Music Film Festival, now in its second year.

“Music fans like to think visually,” says LaMay. “A documentary form of the creative process is one that’s particularly strong in this festival. You can see how the music came to be in the words and in the portrait of the artists and those around them. It’s really about the creative spark, and the creative spark translated into art.”

That’s true of much of this year’s lineup, including “Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings,” an intimate study of the ukulele virtuoso propelled into the spotlight by an unsolicited YouTube video. His life thus far (he’s 36) and his ambitions (he wants to continue doing this for a living) aren’t that interesting, but the focus on his craft is, with him relentlessly experimenting with an instrument no longer in size than some shoes.

Documentaries make up the breadth of the roster, curated by Philadelphia Film Society artistic director Michael Lerman. (There’s only one carryover — “The History of Future Folk” — from last year’s Philadelphia Film Festival.) But in addition to titles like “Good Ol’ Freda” (about the Beatles’ secretary) and “Twenty Feet From Stardom” (on the subject of backup singers), there’s a wide range of topics and formats.

The Flaming Lips are present with “Freak Night” (not their first cinematic offering with the word “freak” in the title). A documentary-cum-concert movie, it dives into a 2012 Halloween show, with frontman Wayne Coyne decked in zombie makeup and looking like Beetlejuice while the band largely plows through their heavy, proggy “Embryonic.” It’s not the same as seeing one of their mega-concerts in the flesh, but it’s close enough.

“Pleased to Meet Me” is a rare fiction film, where numerous actual musicians (and sometimes actors) John Doe, Aimee Mann and Loudon Wainwright III play musicians of varying skills trying to record a song. The comedy (and occasional drama) aren’t always there, but the atmosphere is affable and the insights into aging musicianhood prove potent.

“The films both document the creative process of music, but are also a work of art in themselves,” says LaMay. “It really does cut across cultures and age groups and demographics. But it’s all about the creative process.”

4 to Catch:

1 “Good Ol’ Freda”: Freda Kelly delves into her history as the Beatles’ secretary, but without getting into the cheap juicy stuff.
Thurs., 7:30 p.m.

2 “Twenty Feet From Stardom”: Backup singers, almost by definition, rarely get their due. This doc seeks to correct that, with aide from Bruce Springsteen and Bette Midler. Sun., 7:30 p.m.

3 “We Juke Up In Here”: The Juke Joints — hopping venues for music, drinking and gambling, of the old Southeast — get their turn in the spotlight. Includes a performance by bluesman Rory Block. Sat., 4:30 p.m.

4 “Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me”: Ignored at the time, influential after, the Memphis rock group — featuring the late Alex Chilton — gets their Great Band doc. Sat., 4:15 p.m.

If You Go:
Through April 14
Various venues, prices

http://xpn.org/events/music-filmfest


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

VIDEO: Police seek suspect in molotov cocktail attack…

Police released surveillance video on Wednesday in hopes of tracking down a man who threw a molotov cocktail inside a Brooklyn corner store.

Local

City Council budget asks for 1,000 additional NYPD…

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito unveiled the City Council's budget priorities on Wednesday, including the extra cops for the NYPD at a cost of $94.3 million.

Local

Behind the costumes at the Brooklyn Cosplay Fashion…

Echo Chronum, 17, is a quiet and reserved Brooklyn high school student who often buries herself in her homework. But there is another side to…

Local

Reddit helps man locate missing mother in New…

The Reddit community helped Josh Goldberg find his missing mother on Tuesday.

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

The Word

The best lines from Oprah's ex-stepmother's Daily Mail…

Oprah’s ex-stepmother, Barbara Winfrey, is out for revenge.

Books

A debut novel about fate, love and moving…

Pia Padukone talks about her debut novel, "Where Earth Meets Water."

Movies

Review: 'The Railway Man' is a literal-minded look…

In "The Railway Man," Colin Firth plays a WWII vet suffering from massive trauma acquired from his days as a beaten POW.

NBA

Phil Jackson talked to Steve Kerr, pushes for…

Knicks president Phil Jackson spoke to the media for the first time since firing head coach Mike Woodson on Monday.

MLB

Fantasy baseball: Searching for early season prospects

It’s relatively rare for a mediocre 30-year-old hitter to suddenly go nuts offensively for 162 games. That’s why minor league prospects are so exciting.

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC 'targeting' US international Mix Diskerud

Metro New York has learned Mix Diskerud has drawn “interest” from the expansion MLS side, NYCFC.

NFL

Jets announce they will return to Cortland for…

The tradition of holding camp in Cortland began in 2009 when Rex Ryan wanted to get his Jets away from the distractions of New York City.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."