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Discovering Electronic Music
This short documentary has been making the rounds, I believe it was featured on io9, which means it's been everywhere. I have an interesting perspective, as I'm a documentarian, a film programmer who has made his bones in programming Docs, and a Computer Historian specializing in computer graphics, music, and art. This short works in many ways, but falls short in many ways if you're looking at it through a couple of different lenses, though if you're adding them together, it's incredibly cool. The early 1980s were an important time in Electronic music, not only had we seen about 30 years of experimentation in Computer Music (The Experimental Music Studio at Illinois, the CSIRAC's compositions, people dicking about with PDP-1s, and IBM 1401s, and every other computer after hours), but the mainstream of music was being forever changed. We'd seen some of the earliest pop hits that were solely produced with Synths had hit the charts, and the world of production had started to go digital. None of that is really covered in Discovering Electronic Music, probably because it was all too new, or possibly because they suspected there'd be rights issues. This is done in the classic 1970s educational documentary style, which hasn't necessarily aged well. The footage is great, and it's some of the only footage of that era that isn't concert footage. The doc guy in me was annoyed by the lack of identification throughout. Interviewees, technologies, and especially musical pieces. Some IDs would have really helped. The use of a FAIRLIGHT CMI on a piece. That section, more than anything, has stood the test of time because the methodologies it's documenting are so different from today. 30+ years later, that sort of demo is all we have of some systems, and that makes this kind of doc stand the test of time.
Streetkids United II - The Girls from Rio - Maria Clara
The sports documentary is, perhaps, the most important to the history of docs. The natural structure of a sporting event leads most naturally to exciting film making, not to mention that physical action can make for exciting shooting and editing possibilities. In Streetkids United II - The Girls from Rio, director Maria Clara brings us into the world of the Street Child World Cup. A group of young woman from the favelas of Rio do battle in football with teams of homeless girls from around the world. There's also a boys' tourney, but here, we focus on the girls of Brazil, and it's an amazing collection of impressive, sometimes cocky, often pained, and sometimes wacky, young girls. The way the girls are profiled, and the games shot, shows the skill the director brings to the project, as well as the ways in which these girls story are far more universal than you would expect. The troubles of the young ladies in my life are the same as the ones faced by these young women, only with the added problems that come from being steeped in poverty. The tourney is a feel-good moving piece of filmmaking, and the post-film updates are both up-lifting, and at least a little bittersweet. The desires of these young woman are often so simple, and they manage amazing things, but we are left to wonder, at the end of it all, what did these small segment of their lives mean in relationship to everything else they've been through, and will go through. At least we know THIS moment, and these young woman as they existed at that moment. Perhaps that's enough, but it also thoroughly made me want to go out and support my local at-risk youth soccer groups, because this doc proved that you can stamp a moment of magic on to young people. You can find more at http://www.streetkidsunited.com/