Thursday, August 14, 2014

MIFF Session 13: COME WORRY WITH US/Amanda F**king Palmer On The Rocks

Ok, so, a short with a shorter feature. In 17 minutes I learned that Amanda Palmer has used social media to free herself from the tithe taking music industry, has run into criticism because she doesn't pay people who volunteer to help her through twitter etc., is at ease playing to large or small audiences, allows a potentially frightening level of access to fans, copes with a distance marriage to comics god and novelist Neil Gaiman, and has understandable optimism about her future. In 82 mins I learned that two members of Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra have had a baby and it's altered the way they work.

That sounds damning but it really only bears witness to the differing approaches each film makes to its subject. In the short we get a breathless and thrilling explosion of sound and video bites about and from a frenetic extrovert indy star. By its credits we feel that we've been holding our breath. Come Worry With Us wants us to look and think about how something as timeless as a new child can alter all the lives around it permanently. Mount Zion are a typical post rock outfit in that they operate on a kind of modified hippy ethos of equal internal wealth distribution, a tolerance of fans getting their music for free, a determination to keep their ticket prices affordable etc. They care and want to continue to care despite that becoming increasingly difficult with the addition.

Three members of Mt Zion are also members of the much loved post-rock Godspeed You Black Emperor who reform for a tour which nets some much needed funds and then Mount Zion go on their own tour which. with the child accommodated, involves a massive upscaling for a band used to touring in their own cars. At each stage along this thread we are introduced to a lot of the same themes in the conversations between members (particularly the central couple of Efrim and Jessica) and to-cameras but that is the nature of this account: everyday life facing everyday obstacles with the exception that the people are in a touring indy band with strong anti-maintream principles.

On the way out of this screening (at the wonderful and resurrected Treasury Theatre) I heard people who were pretty obviously fans of the band laughing about how boring they had thought it was. What a pity. What I saw was a really important issue that never gets more than an over shoulder glance in this kind of cultural milieu laid out in reverse relief to what it might have been had a more conventional music documentary path been taken. The music and live performance were there in sufficient measure but mostly we saw these people who we'd more typically experience in the euphoria of a gig having to deal not only with the nappies and nannying of an everyday complication in their lives but openly discussing, not without a wince, how their principles might not make them rich but will keep them convinced that they are living well.

It has been said more than once that there is no such place as outside the system and that living well, honestly and doing what you can to help others is the closest you can get to subverting it. One way the film illustrated this was in the mix of stock between feeble video and very lush DV. Sometimes the mix happened while covering a single event like the neighbourhood wide protests in the band's native Montreal following the GFC. This is as much editing as it is shooting. Like the band whose recording is as principled as their live performance, living well has become the sole option. The rest is surrender.

No comments:

Post a Comment