Wednesday, April 30, 2008

PDX Film Fest This Week Featuring "Wild Combination - A Portrait of Arthur Russell"

The Portland Documentary and eXperimental Film Festival starts tonight, April 30th, and runs through Sunday, May 3rd. The opening film grabbed my attention. Wild Combination is about the late cellist and composer, Arthur Russell--an eccentric who ran away from his Oskaloosa, Iowa home to join a Buddhist commune in San Francisco where he met up with his mentor, Allen Ginsberg. He ended up moving to New York and there he composed music in several genres, including avant garde with Phillip Glass and The Kitchen, disco for the Studio 54 crowd, and personal folk tunes. Apparently his career output remained obscure due to his perfectionism and somewhat hermit-like tendencies. He died of AIDS in 1992.

I never heard an Arthur Russell song until half-an-hour ago. I suppose we might be hearing more of him. His song "This Is How We Walk on the Moon" was recently featured in a British T-Mobil commercial. The documentary is getting a lot of positive press. Congratulations to director Matt Wolf; only 25 years old and already honoring hidden talent from the past.

Wild Combination - A Portrait of Arthur Russell documentary teaser.

From Wolf's director's statement:

Before I even heard Arthur’s music, I was intrigued. My friend described a long forgotten gay disco auteur in a farmer’s plaid shirt, obsessively listening to mixes of his own music on the Staten Island Ferry. That image alone was enough, but when I heard the emotional intensity and the complex beauty in Arthur’s music, I was obsessed.
- PDX Fest site with a schedule that includes parties, several evenings of short films, filmmaker karaoke, an invitational experimental film battle, and workshops like do-it-yourself green screen and a found-footage free-for-all with San Francisco filmmaker, Craig Baldwin.
- The Oregonian gives a nice overview of festival events.
- A whole bunch of Arthur Russell music on YouTube

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