CPH:DOX Festival: Day Two

I’m wrapping up day two of my CPH:DOX festival adventure soaking wet, having just returned from a screening of the David Byrne doc/concert film Ride, Rise, Roar. I had to trek across town in the wind and rain in search of a theatre called DÅBLEBLART (or something). Map in hand, I figured it might be a great opportunity to take in some sights along the way: mainly, lots of folks with sharp facial features dressed in varying shades of grey and usually riding bikes. The architecture is interesting; a great mix of old and new. To put it into film terms, it’s like the car chase in Ronin had sexual intercourse with an Ikea commercial and birthed Copenhagen. This is all positive of course. It’s a very beautiful city. Also, as an added bonus, thanks to some of the trailers before the films I learned that the Danish word for “soon” (as in ‘Coming Soon’) is “SNART”.

So today started off with a screening of Jason Kohn’s Manda Bala (Send a Bullet), one of my favourite docs of the past decade. (Actually, today started with screenings of Four Lions and Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere outside of the festival programming. One of those films will be on my top ten of the year. Can you guess which one?) It was a surprise to see Manda Bala on the festival roster as the film was released three years ago. I’m still not entirely sure what the connection was but I was certainly happy to have a chance to see it projected on the big screen with a pristine 35mm print. I’ve watched the film many times on DVD and quickly realized that the disc does not do Heloísa Passos’ wonderful cinematography justice. For the first time I got to see the film’s vibrant colours and rich textures without an ugly sheen of digital compression. It was also interesting watching the film with an audience. There were lots of laughs in places I wouldn’t have expected, but overall it was a great experience. It really makes me wish all docs were shot on and projected on film.

So Ride, Rise, Roar. Yeah, it was worth the walk. This part doc/mostly concert film follows David Byrne’s tour in support of his album ‘Everything That Happens Will Happen Today’, a project in which he collaborated once again with Brian Eno. The album was one of my favourites the year it was released so I was definitely interested in seeing what director Hillman Curtis captured in concert. Based on a few video clips I’d seen of the tour, I was sure the film would entertain. Byrne enlisted three dancers who performed fairly unusual routines on stage, often including Byrne and the backup singers in the choreography. I’m not normally a fan of interpretive dancing but there was a great intentionally goofy (and almost sloppy) quality to the dancing that it really did add to the energy of the show. It’s one of the few concert films I’ve seen where you can sense the joy in both the audience and the performers, and it’s totally infectious. I found myself feeling the reflexive urge to clap at the end of each song, forgetting for a moment that I was sitting in a theatre. In Denmark. Copenhagen. SO FAR AWAY FROM HOME. I think the other charming detail in the performance is the fact that Byrne and his back up singers aren’t trained dancers. There’s even a section of the film where the singers talk about the fact that they’ve never been asked to dance before so they really had to work to grasp the choreography, as limited as it was. Watching these amateurs mixing it up with pros on stage adds a great level of creative synergy, reaching beyond experience or skill. It’s just a completely joyful experience that makes me regret not catching the show live. Also, Byrne does perform a handful of Talking Heads tracks. NNIICCCEEEE.

Now I’m sitting in the lounge of the hotel typing on my computer, surrounded by Danes and what not. Thinking about wrapping this all up and heading up to my room to take in a few episodes of Deadliest Catch. Tomorrow will be a fairly packed day (if all goes as planned). Oh, forgot to mention that I didn’t get in to Freakonomics because I wasn’t aware that my reserved tickets had to be picked up by the following day. Bummer. Luckily I’ve got all my tickets for the next two days and should end up catching around eight more films. Until then, Farvel (Long-term farewell in Danish). Or more appropriately, Vi ses SNART (Short-term farewell, e.g. ‘See you soon’).

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