IndieWEEK in Toronto, Canada celebrated it’s tenth anniversary by including seven movies in the lineup under the Reel Indie Film Fest. From music videos, to shorts, to feature length documentaries, there was a big spread between the serious and the lighthearted, with something for every indie music and film lover.
The Legend of Jimi Lazer
The Legend of Jimi Lazer, directed by Mann Munoz, won Best Adventure Film at the 2013 Manhattan Film Festival and was shown during IndieWEEK in Toronto at the 2013 Reel Indie Film Festival. Jimi Lazer, a struggling musician, makes a deal. A guitar to make him bigger than Hendrix, at the cost of his first born. Nearly 30 years later, and he is completely forgotten, living in the middle of nowhere, the band has broken up and there is a lot of bitterness on all sides. Then his old manager has a dream, a vision, of Jimi and his band on stage with the Man in Black. They have three days to reassemble the old band and take one last shot at fame and glory. Dark forces are gathering to stop them, and not everything is as it seems.
Part Blues Brothers, part Scott Pilgrim, it’s difficult to dislike The Legend of Jimi Lazer. At times, the budget shows, and some of the acting is a little questionable, but it’s got a lot of heart. Running the gamut of music urban legends (like the 27 club, and Robert Johnson at the crossroads) with a kickass soundtrack, there’s always something happening. Mann Munozkeeps the story constantly ticking along at a merry pace, rarely rushing but never slowing.
The cast is largely made of unknowns, but they all acquit themselves well, especially Robbie Beniuk as the title character and Patrick J. Mitchellas Freedom, the priest/manager who sets the plot in motion and acts as the Jiminy Cricket, keeping Jimi and the rest on the straight and narrow. As said before, the inexperience shows from time to time, but everyone at least tries and the love and care given to the script and music makes it shine.
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Musicwood is a documentary by musicians and makers of acoustic guitars that has captured the imagination of audiences over the past few months since its international premiere in London, England. It features a stellar musical lineup including the Antlers and Yo La Tengo.
It all started when the makers of acoustic guitars in the US discovered that there might shortly be no trees to supply the sprucewood need to make the guitars. A group of guitar manufacturers, Bob Taylor, Chris Martin and Dave Berryman of the famed Gibson Guitars, led by the award winning director Maxine Trump (winner of the BDA for her work with BBC America), set out to answer that question. Their search lead them to Alaska, and astonishing facts about what was happening to one of the last vast old growth forest in America, the Tombas National Forest of Alaska.