I was walking on the Lower East Side the other night and a poster kept grabbing my attention, yet I wasn’t familiar with what I thought was the name of a band or a new album on it, so I carried on walking by. The following night, near Union Square, the same poster caught my eye.
Turns out there’s a reason it was calling me.
The poster was trying to tell me about a documentary that’s showing at the Lincoln Center as part of their Sound & Vision music doccie fest. Called Spier and Shield, it is directed by Petter Ringbom. The doccie had its world premiere at Hot Docs in Canada earlier this year, and has just shown at the Durban International Film Festival. It looks at South Africa’s 20 years of democracy milestone, through the eyes of its artists – particularly Brett Murray, who painted a caricatured image of SA president Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed that led to a defamation lawsuit and sparked riots, Fofokpolisiekar, a rock outfit that has channelled the voice of a post-Apartheid Afrikaans youth, and the fashion crew The Smarteez, who featured in the music video for Solange’s Losing You.
The poster for the film is actually an outline of the controversial painting that Murray did called The Spear. But in the New York night-time light, it looked like the silhouette of a bear. Perhaps there’s something in that in itself, and how the issues the painting – and other works of art like it – provoke.
Ringbom, who is from Sweden but lives in Brooklyn, also made The Russian Winter, a documentary about former Fugees member and Grammy-nominated artist Jon Forte travelling on a 9-week trip across the country, collaborating with artists there.
The Sound & Vision fest was created last year to showcase films that explore the music and art that has become a part of cultures from all over the world. This year’s lineup alone is as varied as featuring a Japanese trance didgeridoo player to looking at music created on 1980s video-game hardware. The opening night film is Beautiful Noise, which tells the story of how underground groups like Cocteau Twins, The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and others inspired the next generation of music, and the closing night film is Pulp, which debuted at SXSW with Jarvis Cocker in tow. Director Florian Habicht will be on hand here in NYC to talk about the British band’s final concert in their hometown of Sheffield, which he shot, together with vox pops of fans who attended.
[Pic: Xander Ferreira, aka Gazelle, in the Drakensberg mountains, by Petter Ringbom]
Sound & Vision runs from 31st July to 6 August at the Film Society of Lincoln Center‘s Walter Reade Theater. Petter Ringbom will be doing a Q-and-A after his screening on the 5th.