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By STUART BRAZELL, AFI online Contributing Writer
There is no denying that music can have a profound impact on film. Nothing is more emotionally satisfying than watching a great movie scene with the perfect song playing. Music can also inspire a film, and that is clear in this year's lineup of music-related films at AFI FEST 2007.
The world premiere PUBLIC ENEMY: WELCOME TO THE TERRORDOME examines the powerful 20-year history of the influential hip-hop group, Public Enemy, and their impact musically, socially and politically. Making the most of his access to Chuck D, Flava Flav and the personalities that make up the group, director and Public Enemy fan Robert Patton-Spruill says making the documentary was such a labor of love that "it was torture in deciding what to cut out and what to leave in."
When asked how music influences his film, Patton-Spruill answered: "Music has always been at the center of my creative work. I was trained to use music to make audiences 'feel' the story, and here I had at my disposal new versions of some of the most important music made in the modern era. It made it hard to go wrong. PE is now a 'Soul Power/Hard Rock' band with the greatest MC of all time fronting it."
PUBLIC ENEMY includes interviews with the Beastie Boys, Tom Morello (Audioslave, Rage Against the Machine), Talib Kweli and Henry Rollins, among others.
Director/writer Kevin Aduaka uses popular music as the MacGuffin for meditations on family, race and obsession in his exciting feature debut ELVIS PELVIS. Told in two parts, the story centers on the universal relationship between father and son, using music icons Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix as "visual symbols of power." When asked about music in relation to his film, Aduaka replied "Music is important to me - but ELVIS PELVIS actually has very little to do with music as such. The music is used as an allegory for a much deeper exploration of the human condition and also as a political demonstration/ expression. That said, I think music should be used more in films for characterization. I think it's a pretty effective tool for that purpose, and an economical one too. I love Jazz music, in particular, bebop - I relish the possibility of making films that feel like what Charlie Parker was doing with his saxophone in the late '50s and early '60s - that form and structure thrills me. It's sort of shapeless and fluid."
ROCK POCKETS, from director Trevor Anderson is an homage to the tight-jeans-andcheap- bandana culture of the '80s and what could be more musical than an animated short film featuring the voice of John Lennon? In 1969,14-year-old Jerry Levitan snuck into John Lennon's hotel room for a chat. Now, 38 years later, Josh Raskin has made a film about it. Using the original interview recording as the soundtrack, Raskin romances Lennon's every word in a cascade of animation titled I MET THE WALRUS. Raskin explains what makes this film so timely today: "Despite having been recorded 38 years ago, John's words are more relevant than ever. As he speaks about peace and injustice and war and complacency, his voice is overwhelmed by the hiss and pops of the tape, clearly worn by age. Like the tape, his sentiments should sound like relics from the distant past. The fact that they don't is a painful reminder of how little we seem to have learned."
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AFI FEST presented by Audi is the longest-running film festival in Los Angeles and one of the most influential film festivals in North America. Each year the Festival presents one of the world's most anticipated showcases of international film, demonstrating AFI's commitment to celebrating the art form.
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