With downloading at a critical, crippling apex it seems the only hope the floundering music industry has of surviving is in getting back to its communicative roots: Live performances.
That’s what makes the ongoing North by Northeast Music & Film Festival and Conference (running June 17 to 21) one of Toronto’s brightest arts and culture lights, amassing more than 500 international signed and unsigned pop bands and trotting them out on the stages of key local live music venues.
But equally important to NXNE’s legendary fingerprint this year is the film festival that runs alongside it. Collecting an amazing array of musically themed screenings that exemplify the passion and energy of rock ‘n’ roll in all its various incarnations, the festival’s cinema series (this year partnered with the NFB) is the biggest and most diverse in its 15-year history, with over 30 features and short subjects playing out on a myriad of screens around the city.
Some highlights of this year’s film festival include Ashes of American Flags, a stunning document of beloved rock outfit Wilco and the group’s 2008 North American tour; Frautschi, an intimate portrait of a Russian guitar hero and teacher whose influence in his home country is profound; Turner Award winning The Posters Came From the Walls, which charts the international (and insatiable) fan base that pioneering British electro-popsters Depeche Mode still command; The Eternity Man, Julien Temple’s haunting chronicle of Australian street chalk artist Arthur Stace and Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, a new documentary about the singer-songwriter’s stint performing at the titular slammer in 1968.