Posts Tagged ‘new york’

National Gallery of Art to Screen Native New Yorker

March 17, 2015
Terry 'Coyote' Murphy lead in the film "Native New Yorker.

Terry ‘Coyote’ Murphy lead in the film “Native New Yorker.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. will hold a public screening of the award-winning documentary film Native New Yorker, by Steve Bilich, as part of a retrospective entitled “AMERICAN EXPERIMENTS IN NARRATIVE: 2000-2015”, that has been programmed by curator and archivist Jon Gartenberg. This series highlights contemporary American films (made in the 21st century), that focus on formal experimentation with narrative structure and which incorporate reflections upon individual identity, the family structure, the fabric of the community, and the larger political culture.

The screening of Native New Yorker will take place on Saturday, May 30 at 2:00 p.m. in a program together with NYC Weights and Measures by Jem Cohen and The Time We Killed by Jennifer Reeves.

Native New Yorker is a cerebral and thought-provoking investigation and commentary on Native American influence on New York City. Filmed with a 1924 hand-crank Cine-Kodak camera, the silent documentary follows Shaman Trail Scout ‘Coyote’ as he travels from Inwood Park (where the island was traded for beads and booze), down a native trail (now known as “Broadway”), into lower Manhattan (a sacred burial ground). Shot before, during and after 9/11, the film comes together with a breathtaking original score by William Susman to portray this journey, transcending through time and space.

The film has won many accolades, including the Best Documentary Short at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival. Upon its release, The Austin Chronicle raved that Native New Yorker was, “the stuff dreams – and nightmares – are made of,” while New Internationalist called the film “…a conventionally unclassifiable short…In 13 minutes it brilliantly encapsulates aeons.” The film has screened at festivals worldwide, including the Sound of Silent Film Festival with a live orchestra, and most recently the 50th Pesaro Film Festival in Italy, as part of “Panorama U.S.A.”

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Native New Yorker: What is my view of the story?

September 16, 2012

Terry ‘Coyote’ Murphy in Native New Yorker (2005)

The story for me is about loss and hope told through powerful visual symbols and traumatic events. Coyote walks us through New York City showing us both “everyday” and life-altering events that take on a new meaning in the context of a Native American guide.

There is a clear and brilliant symmetry to this film. The mystical and metaphorical image of a soaring eagle appears at the beginning and end of the film. The eagle represents spiritual and revered elements of both the Native American and U.S. American culture. The film opens with a symbolic and prescient shot of the Twin Towers approaching the island by water. The film concludes pulling away from the island, again by water, with a close-up of Coyote. However, over his shoulder, where the Twin Towers once stood, there is now an empty void.

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Native New Yorker won many awards including Best Documentary Short at The Tribeca Film Festival and appeared at over 25 film festivals. The Tribeca Film Institute now distributes Native New Yorker

September 16, 2012 The Moondance International Film Festival at The Tribeca Cinemas gives Native New Yorker a reprise screening. It won Best Documentary Short at Moondance in 2005.

Native New Yorker: From what did I draw my inspiration?

September 14, 2012

Filmmaker Steve Bilich and the 1924 Cine-Kodak camera used to film Native New Yorker (2005)

The film has an incredible emotional arc and I tried to echo that emotion in the structure and sound of the score. The layering of rhythms and the incessant drive of the music reflect the energy and the many facets of New York City as well as the motion and pace of the images created by Steve. In addition, the “flicker” caused by the use of that old 1924 Cine-Kodak suggest a tempo and pulse.

The instrumentation of the score is inspired by the abundance of New York City street musicians seen in the film. Violin and guitar buskers appear as well as drummers. The piano is an homage to the musicians who played in so many of the first movie houses. Native American chanting, as well as Middle Eastern vocalizing, reflect emotion, characters, action and events both on and off screen. The breathy sounds of the native flutes are emblematic of the life force present and shared by all cultures.

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Native New Yorker won many awards including Best Documentary Short at The Tribeca Film Festival and appeared at over 25 film festivals. The Tribeca Film Institute now distributes Native New Yorker

September 16, 2012 The Moondance International Film Festival at The Tribeca Cinemas gives Native New Yorker a reprise screening. It won Best Documentary Short at Moondance in 2005.

Native New Yorker: How did I approach composing the music for a silent film?

September 14, 2012

A scene from Native New Yorker (2005)

When I compose music for any film, I try to make an organic connection to what I see and hear on screen. I listen for music that may already be in the film or, perhaps performed by one of the characters using a particular instrument. I then develop my melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic material as well as instrumentation based on this pre-existing music.

 
Because Native New Yorker is a “silent film”, the emphasis was on creating a link between my score and the visuals. Unlike my other film scores, there was no actual “indigenous” music heard on screen that could inform my themes. So, I took another approach based on the many musicians seen in the film yet not heard.

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Native New Yorker won many awards including Best Documentary Short at The Tribeca Film Festival and appeared at over 25 film festivals. The Tribeca Film Institute now distributes Native New Yorker

September 16, 2012 The Moondance International Film Festival at The Tribeca Cinemas gives Native New Yorker a reprise screening. It won Best Documentary Short at Moondance in 2005.

Native New Yorker: How did I get involved with this project?

September 11, 2012

Native New Yorker (2005) A film by Steve Bilich. Music by William Susman

I went to a shorts screening at Sundance in 2002. They screened a portion of what was to become “Native New Yorker”. For a few minutes, we watched, stunned, a close-up of Coyote while over his shoulder images of the Twin Towers burned in the background accompanied by music from Mozart’s Requiem. It was very startling and moving as well as somewhat surreal because we were watching these images through the lens of a silent film era camera. It was an extraordinary moment I think for everyone who saw those images that day given 9/11 had happened only a few months prior.

I approached Steve after the screening and suggested that if he expanded the film it would benefit from an original score that would add “commentary and context”. We stayed in touch over several years. He completed the film in 2005 and I scored it in about two weeks. He liked my approach and went with it.

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Native New Yorker won many awards including Best Documentary Short at The Tribeca Film Festival and appeared at over 25 film festivals. The Tribeca Film Institute now distributes Native New Yorker

September 16, 2012 The Moondance International Film Festival at The Tribeca Cinemas gives Native New Yorker a reprise screening. It won Best Documentary Short at Moondance in 2005.

Opus One Memphis Interview Part 4

February 26, 2012

I’m interested in hearing more about your chamber music group, OCTET. For all of you readers who aren’t familiar with OCTET, it’s an awesome New York-based music ensemble dedicate to performing contemporaary compositions that push boundaries. What inspired you to start OCTET?

What inspired me to start OCTET was the need to hear my music. It’s always been a challenge to get performances. I wanted to take control of getting my music performed and recorded. I also wanted to create a distinctive ensemble sound. Our instrumentation is sax, trumpet, trombone, drums, piano, keyboards, vocals, and bass. We are a scaled down big band playing contemporary classical.

(You can hear the ensemble at our website and on our blog.)

Let’s talk about the piece MSOs Opus One is performing on March 1 and 2, Zydeco Madness. You’ve told me before that this piece was your response and memorial to the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina. What connection do you have to Louisiana?

I lived in New Orleans for a year and a half before transferring to Champaign-Urbana. I remember the seasonal storms and floods and walking around in 3 feet of water years before Katrina. When Katirna happened, I asked myself why are these people being neglected and forgotten.

Initially, it was a solo accordion piece, because the lead instrument in a Zydeco band is typically a button accordion. I chose Bayan accordion which is a very large button accordion with a wider range than the accordions you see in Zydeco bands. The Bayan accordion is what one studies in the conservatory. You also generally play the Bayan sitting down because of its weight.

Stas Venglevski performs Zydeco Madness for Bayan Accordion solo in San Francisco

My piece does not emulate the Zydeco sound, which is very much tied into blues and creole music, so much as paint a picture or a mood around the events of Katrina using an accordion. The piece is episodic, jump-cutting from one event to the next like a news report.

It was premiered by a great Russian Bayan virtuoso named Stas Venglevski. I created a string orchestra version shortly after.

Read the whole interview at Opus One Memphis