Canadian Music Week

5 films to watch at Canadian Music Week

Canadian Music Week debuts its 2011 edition this Wednesday and once again they've curated a concurrent film festival to run at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Friday and Saturday as part of their celebration of all things music. This year, they've programmed 10 features and a couple of shorts that run the gamut of what constitutes the sprawling 'music film' genre: rock docs, rock operas, concert films, band biopics, musicals - and this is only scratching the surface.

Since the line-up of bands packed into the five-day fest might be too enticing to catch all 10 features in the film festival, I've gone through and selected five must-sees to make the decision-making a bit easier. These films, from the hysterically campy to the euphorically visceral, Illustrate how music experiences in the cinema are not necessarily second-rate to those found at a live concert.


QUADROPHENIA will be the first in a double-bill of dramatizations of two of The Who's concept albums (the other being TOMMY, see below). Sometimes cited as one of the best British films of all-time, this rock opera is an adaptation of an adaptation that originally debuted on the stage, and still makes its rounds in the UK to this day. The film is not so much a playlist of music video-esque scenes, but a film actually about the concepts of this concept album, which just so happens to be one of The Who's best albums, period. If that weren't enough, perhaps Sting's first film appearance is reason enough to dive into what Mr. Movie Voice ostentatiously exclaims at the end of the trailer, "The movie that music's been waiting for."

Quadrophenia will screen at 6:45 PM on March 11th, 2011.

TOMMY (1975)

Maybe it's not as notoriously censored, banned, spit upon, protested, or burned to a crisp as Ken Russell's infamous THE DEVILS, which he made four years prior to TOMMY. But, it still screens publicly about as infrequently, much less in a beautiful 35mm print as it will at this screening. Making it all the more unmissable, it benefits from a sung-through script (Jacques Demy fans, take note) comprised of songs from The Who's fourth album Tommy (naturally). Fans of The Monkees' 1968 film HEAD will find this delirious gem to be somewhat of a spiritual cousin to that film, not to
mention other contemporaneous homages to films like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.

Tommy will screen at 9:30 PM on March 11th, 2011.


Part Dr. Feelgood retrospective, part period-piece, part multi-media collage, and part place-poem in the spirit of MY WINNIPEG, Julien Temple's look at the momentarily on-top-of-the-world band from Canvey Island has been winning over audiences and critics alike, getting standing ovations at film festivals and garnering excellent write-ups in the Guardian and Time Out. This will have tremendous appeal for members of the Dr. Feelgood cult, as well as those looking to enroll in said cult. On a more universal level, though, OIL CITY CONFIDENTIAL is an artfully and entertainingly made portrait of a band, place, and time that is imploring to not be forgotten.

Oil City Confidential will screen at 1:00 PM on March 12th, 2011.

AN ISLAND (2011)

I was unfamiliar with the music by Danish band Efterklang before this film, so I checked out their albums Parades (pretty nice!) and, their newest, Magic Chairs (not too shabby either). The latter is the subject of AN ISLAND, a semi-doc which finds the band in a range of 'natural' habitats (secluded cabins, the bed of a pickup truck, and the like) performing the songs from the album. The film, directed by Vincent Moon - probably most well-known for his The National doc, A SKIN, A NIGHT - features exquisite, lulling camerawork that glides into and among the audiences and spaces like a wandering ghost.

An Island will screen at 3:30 PM on March 12th, 2011. It will be preceded by the music video for Eatliz's Lose This Child (directed by Merav and Yuval Nathan).


The token psychedelic head-trip of the festival - with its pulsating synths, geometric interiors, and ominously stoic characters - BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW looks genuinely unsettling. A plot description promises a fusion of Reagan-era paranoia (it's set in 1983, after all) with a "drug-fuelled step up the evolutionary ladder," hinting that this cryptic-looking thriller has more on its mind than losing you a few hours of sleep. It also happens to be exceedingly beautiful, creating a polygamous marriage between the aesthetics of J-Horror, Anime, and SOLARIS. But what is it doing in a film festival curated within Canada Music Week? That vintage synth score is composed by none other than Black Mountain's keyboardist, Jeremy Schmidt.

Beyond the Black Rainbow will screen at 5:15 PM on March 12th, 2011.

Canadian Music Week's Film Festival takes place March 11 and 12, 2011. All screenings take place at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Individual tickets can be purchased online @ the TIFF Bell Lightbox Box Office, Reitman Square, 350 King Street West, daily 10am - 10pm or by calling 416-599-TIFF(8433). Admission is included with a Canadian Music Fest wristband, which are available at

Writing by Blake Williams

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