Wednesday, May 22, 2013

#10 Grandma Lo-fi - The Basement Tapes of Sigridur Nielsdottir (2011)

I think I first heard about this film in 2011 when it was shown at CPH:DOX in Copenhagen. Didn't see it then, though. This May (2013) it was featured - as part of the new film program at the Spot Festival in Aarhus - along with my own music documentary "First You Close Your Eyes". So I finally had to chance to check it out.

The film is about Sigridur Nielsdottir who at 70 started making music with a simple Casio keyboard and stuff from her kitchen, as well as toys and her pets. In seven years she manage to record more than 600 songs on 59 homemade albums. The young musicians on Iceland caught wind of this and the film tells us she somehow became a bit of a local cult sensation.

We hear about her life, her lost love, her travels and experience how she makes her music. Whether you like the music or not her enthusiasm is definitely contagious and it's impossible for the filmmakers not to end up with a sweet and very heartwarming film.

The homemade aesthetic of her music is mirrored in the film's visual style using picture collages and grainy super-8 and 16 mm footage. So indeed the whole lo-fi grandma theme saturates the film. Her fans among the younger Icelandic bands also perform her songs and tell her story through them in little sections of the film.

It might be difficult to put one's finger on the Icelandic "thing". Their whole approach to music and art. But you can sense it. It's tongue-in-cheek, but serious. And yes, everything Icelandic is hip. Still. Even grannies!

It might seem like a fun "fad" that these musicians liking this music. But I don't really doubt their love and/or fascination with Sigridur Nielsdottir. Her music is honest, it comes straight from the heart and doesn't cater one tiniest bit to what is called the music business. She doesn't have to. She doesn't care. She is totally free! But the music itself must be what some call "an acquired taste". And the context - knowing her - surely must help with the enjoyment of the music. This film will certainly do that job to a certain extent. Still, it feels like its balancing on a tightrope. That is also one way to enjoy the film. Challenging your perception of what music is and can be. Remind you that everything is subjective. Bottom line is, though: She did what she loved to do, even though she came to it very late in life. But anyone having that spark within themselves well after 70 is an inspiration.

Because of the film festival I watched this film two days in a row. At the first viewing it felt somewhat longwinded about two-thirds in. But at the second viewing it didn't feel as long. I of course knew what to expect, but it also allowed me to catch more details in it, which was nice. In short: Recommended viewing.

No comments:

Post a Comment