On the Road: An Intersection of Music & Film

October 6, 2013 |

“The Last Safari,” directed by UofA alumni Matt Goldman.
photo: Elizabeth L. Gilbert

In the hands of a good filmmaker, music and  film are powerful storytelling partners.

The 9th annual Tucson Film and Music Festival (TFMF), un-spooling Oct. 10-13, has once again compiled compelling stories that highlight the intersection of music, film and the human experience. With a line-up featuring Arizona premiere screenings as well as a few Southwestern premieres, festival honcho Michael Toubassi and his crew are bringing intriguing tales to Tucson that shine a light on the travails of the road and the toll it can take on the musicians who spend so much time traveling it.

This year’s opening night documentary, We Always Lie To Strangers, is a fascinating look at the world of Branson, Missouri and the musical families who have built their living performing for tourists. The interconnected family drama that plays out behind the curtain in this film is both poetic and a bit sad – not at all glamorous as one might believe it to be. A stand-out favorite at this spring’s SXSW film fest, the movie is by director AJ Schnack, who made the documentary Kurt Cobain: About A Son, among other films. Schnack brings his unique vision of Branson’s entertainers to the screen with brutal and potent honesty.

I Am Not A Rock Star is an equally captivating documentary by director Bobbi Jo Hart that follows classical pianist Marika Bournaki, from age 9 to 20, as she navigates the difficult path to fame and the toll it takes on her family and everything else in her life. Fame and glory come at what cost? A staggering reminder of the dues paid by child prodigies, this unflinching documentary should be seen by every stage parent.

Festival director Toubassi is “excited about everything” on the schedule, and particularly proud of the perfect storm of films that all coalesced around the theme of travel, movement, the road and music. With any festival, the unknowns of what will be submitted hold programmers hostage, but this year a strong group of films came in that address these topics poignantly.

Other films of note include:

  • The Last Safari, a documentary that tracks photographer Elizabeth L. Gilbert’s quest through Africa to revisit people she had photographed years ago and the journey’s trials and tribulations. 
  • Don’t Follow Me (I’m Lost) is a “gritty” tour film about folk rocker Bobby Bare Jr. 
  • If We Shout Loud Enough, a documentary about the Baltimore punk scene and the band Double Dagger, is a gem for punk fans.

But it’s not just big film festival feature-length movies on this year’s schedule. A robust shorts program is also on tap, showcasing both local work as well as submitted films and music videos; it is a great opportunity to see local filmmakers’ creations on the big screen.

The TFMF has developed a reputation for presenting films and stories that are strongly character driven and unique; examples are last year’s standouts Strutter and History of Future Folk. These festivals are often the only place to experience films of this nature, and the focus on music as a key element in the films is an homage to the strong relationship of film and music in Tucson.

Tucson Film And Music Festival screenings are at three different locations. Opening night is Thursday, Oct. 10 at La Cocina, 201 N. Court Ave., and features live music. The following night’s screenings are at The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. Saturday and Sunday’s screenings are at the Century El Con 20 Cinema, 3601 E. Broadway Blvd. Visit TucsonFilmandMusicFestival.com for the complete schedule and ticket information.

Category: Arts, Film