In the past, we’ve sometimes joked about changing our name to the “Maine International Film and Music Festival.” That never happened and it probably never will, but MIFF has always had a strong music component. In addition to countless music-based films, we’ve presented full-fledged concerts by artists including Billy Bang, Roswell Rudd, Jim White, Katy Roberts, and, last year, Annie Ross, as well as live accompaniment to silent and post-silent era films. But this year, there’s more music than ever!
The Psychedelic Cinema Orchestra will be here to accompany Ken Brown’s trippy hippy-era films once shown at the Boston Tea Party; old New England films from another era—that of silent cinema in Maine—will be accompanied live by Jeff Beam and friends in an evening called “Stories from the Past; Sounds from the Future.”
There are remarkable films about remarkable individual musicians: Rahsaan Roland Kirk in The Case of the Three Sided Dream, Fela Kuti in Finding Fela, Frank Morgan in Sound of Redemption, Joe Strummer in Strummer, and films about groups of music makers: creative collaborations of musicians creating a new version of Memphis soul sound in Take Me to the River, and of Balkan brass music in Brasslands.
Music is joyous therapy, able to reach people and places thought unreachable through dementia in the remarkable Alive Inside. Lost Scottish ballad singing is at the heart of Blackbird, an eccentric rock band at the center of Frank, Bollywood song and dance numbers suffuse Dhoom 3, and jazz pianist Joe Albany’s life is the basis for the powerful new Glenn Close film, Low Down.
There’s a couple of unique music videos: “James Gilmore: That Ain’t Me” and “When the Curtain Comes Down” set to a Diana Krall number. There’s even a de facto Beatles section with the restored A Hard Day’s Night and the almost-glimpsed fictional John Lennon who is, in his own way, at the core of our closing film, Living is Easy with Eyes Closed.
Close your eyes—no, keep ‘em open!—and groove! We’ve marked music-related screenings from this year’s fest with a musical note in print materials for easy reference, and you can sort by Music in the online listings.