Ebertfest Day Three – Wild and Weird (The Alloy Orchestra)

Wild and WeirdI have put off writing about Wild and Weird because I’m not totally sure what exactly to write about. Wild and Weird is a series of short, silent films in which the Alloy Orchestra creates and performs the accompanying soundtrack. The Alloy Orchestra is three men that mostly play percussion instruments, some traditional, some unique. They take great care in their music and, while untraditional, works extremely well with the source material.

For Ebertfest, the Alloy Orchestra did not play their full repertoire, the Wild and Weird DVD contains 14 shorts, I believe we saw 8-10 of them. The shorts were all unique, all different, and all fairly unusual. My favorite was Red Spectre (note this video has no sound) which is hand tinted and had a fitting devilish soundtrack to it.

As a huge huge fan of early silent cinema, the entire show was totally enrapturing. The music completely changes the tone of some films, but it keeps you entertained and at attention. I will be purchasing the Wild and Weird DVD shortly, actually.

Two of the guys from the Alloy Orchestra came back for the Q&A afterwards (the third guy was selling merchandise) and they went over some of their techniques, some of their instruments and their experiences with short films. It was said that films like Hugo have really brought the interest for silent cinema back in demand. YouTube is a haven for many silents, but so many have been destroyed or neglected over the years it’s an absolute shame. The Alloy Orchestra have been at this for over 20 years, long before YouTube, which is totally admirable. I recommend checking them out if you ever get the chance, I do not think you will be disappointed.

While I haven’t seen the DVD…Based on the stuff I saw…

I give it 5 out of 5.

Some interesting Ebertfest links:

Alloy Orchestra: http://www.alloyorchestra.com/
The festival’s main site: http://www.ebertfest.com/
Stream the interview sessions for free: http://ustre.am/JauL

Ebertfest 2012 Announcements!

Roger Ebert’s Blog – With the Ebertfest announcement

Allow me to give a brief history lesson to set up this post…

I am from the greater Chicagoland area and have been a movie lover for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my family would watch Siskel and Ebert At the Movies religiously. My father wouldn’t see a movie without hearing the opinions of both Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. I have literally grown up with Roger Ebert as the film critic and I’ve enjoyed reading his work my entire life.

For those of you unfamiliar with Ebertfest, here is the official site, here is the Wikipedia page. It pretty much exactly what it sounds like, a film festival helmed by Mr. Ebert. It is held near the University of Illinois campus and unlike other film festivals where submissions are welcome, Ebertfest choices are handpicked.

I am incredibly excited to get to be going this year and a good friend of mine is flying up from North Carolina to share the experience. It’s my first time going, but hopefully not my last.

Now, onto the film choices…

  • Kind Hearts and Coronets – Not only is this a great movie, but Patton Oswalt (Young Adult) picked it and will be the host for the night. Alec Guiness is simply amazing in this.
  • Big Fan – Another great movie, starring Patton Oswalt as a rabid NY Jets fan. Obviously Oswalt will join for this
  • Joe Versus the Volcano – An seemingly odd choice but one of Ebert’s favorites. I’m always up for classic Tom Hanks movies.
  • Phunny Business: A Black Comedy – Totally unaware of this documentary but it is about an all black night club and the owner. The owner of the club, Raymond Lambert, will be joining us.
  • The Truth About Beauty and Blogs – Short film, hadn’t heard of it before but it looks like it will tie into Phunny Business. Joined by Kelichi Ezie, the comedienne and filmmaker. Joined by the writer-director, actors and some crew.
  • Kinyarwanda – I have heard many things about this and if it’s as heart-wrenching as it sounds it will be mesmerizing.
  • TerriHey, I blogged about this! Star Jacob Wysocki and director, Azazal Jacobs, will join.
  • On Borrowed Time – A documentary about the past two years of Paul Cox’s life after getting a life-saving kidney transplant. Should be a fascinating watch. Cox and Nate Kohn will join.
  • A short film collection accompanied by The Alloy Orchestra including Georges Méliès’ Trip to the Moon, which you may recognize from Hugo. Alloy Orchestra members will join the discussion.
  • A Separation – This Iranian film (and Oscar winner!) is something I regret not having already seen so I greatly look forward to it. Director, Asghar Farhadi, is hoping to join.
  • Special effects techniques from the wizards that worked on The Tree of Life.
  • Higher Ground – Not the stoner comedy that its name makes it out to be, this is a film about how religion shapes a woman’s life. Screenwriter Carolyn S. Briggs will join.
  • Patang – I don’t believe I had heard of this film before. The director’s father was one of Ebert’s old film students. Director Prashant Bhargava will join along with his father and assorted cast and crew.
  • Take Shelter – A movie that has ranked very high on my ‘to-watch’ list and I couldn’t be more excited that Michael Shannon will be there along with director, Jeff Nichols. So very excited for this one.
  • Citizen Kane – Not only is this one of the best movies ever, but Ebert recorded a commentary track for the DVD release some years ago and that will be playing along with the movie. It is a fantastic commentary to go along with an incredible film.

More details can obviously found in the source link at the top of this post but I must say again…I am EXTREMELY excited for this. I will be posting from the event, so expect more to come!