The four-minute animated intro for the Growing Darker/Growing Lighter Edmonton Music Film Festival (GEMFF) opens to the exotic twangs of an Asian spaghetti thriller playing over paleolithic cave toons. The lonesome sounds of an old saloon slow it down before a synth kicks in and swings it down a quaint and quirky avenue, complete with buskers, breakdancers and witty store signs, like:
“I listened to some music from a collaboration I did with a bunch of guys in town and it just seemed like a really cool piece of music to do this to because it’s got four kind of distinctive sections and … all have kind of a western theme,” says GEMFF mastermind and curator Trevor Rockwell, who also created the stop-motion short with his ten-year-old animator daughter, Ella.
The animation definitely has the authentic DIY aesthetic, sincerely endearing and satisfying. And the hour-long local music video film Rockwell put together as GEMFF, named as a nod to our seasonal extremes, is just as true blue and entertaining. The 16 videos from Edmonton musicians and filmmakers were thoughtfully selected with diversity in mind, and a healthy balance of ranges—from genre to gender—are included.
Rockwell’s collection begins with a Grammy performance by the Northern Cree Singers, 11 electrifying voices boosted by earthly drum beats. Next is a video I would challenge any filmmaker to make more authentically and amazingly ’80s. You can’t fake the 1989 authenticity of the cardboard spaceship setting for “Thunder on the Tundra.” The sci-fi, romantico-with a touch of disco-winter wonderland masterpiece was done by Wilfred N & the Grown Men. The band, which released Passing Through Time—its tenth album—in January, has evolved to include Nik Kozub and Clint Frazier of Shout Out Out Out Out and, along with longtime collaborator Jamie Philp, will be performing in the theatre lobby ahead of the film. Local player and producer Mitchmatic will take over the theatre stage to close the show.
The Lad Mags’ four females and garbageman drummer go on a life/death surf-creep adventure before the young Flint boys hit the kitchen and everything gets noisy and shitty. Other locals bands such as Billie Zizi, NeoA4, The Imagineers, Brazilian Money, Marlaena Moore are also featured.
“This is a process of discovery for me. I’m learning more about the local scene and appreciating it,” says Rockwell.
This is the second of two GEMFF installments facilitated by and showing at Metro Cinema and Rockwell says the positive feedback from the initial film motivated and inspired round two.
“People kind of think that going to an Edmonton music video night is going to be kind of dull or something and they’re just showing up because their own video is playing,” Rockwell says. “And then they’re kind of shocked to find out there are 15 other videos that are as exciting in different ways as their video is, and they’re just like, ‘Wow.’”
Along with his mid-’90s rock grind project with Shuyler Jansen, The Naked and the Dead, Rockwell produced Corb Lund’s first album, and has released eight albums from his own creative endeavour, Choir and Marching Band.
And when he’s not teaching history at various universities around town, Rockwell is digging into what he knows and loves, admitting, “My fantasy is that someone would let me do—Metro would maybe let me do, just my favourite music from around the world.”
Sat., Mar. 18, (9:30 pm)
Growing Darker/Growing Lighter Edmonton Music Film Festival
Metro Cinema, $12