The film component of NXNE 2008 is among the strongest ever, boasting numerous Toronto premieres of amazing music documentaries of the sort rarely screened at film festivals, let alone in mainstream theatres.
This year the spotlight is on innovative mavericks who refused to play by the music industry rules. Among the more exciting entries (all screenings at the NFB Cinema and the Royal) is A Life In The Death Of Joe Meek (June 13, 7:15 pm), which offers a glimpse of the strange world of the gay tone-deaf writer/producer behind the Tornados’ groundbreaking 1962 hit Telstar, the first song by a UK group to top the U.S. pop charts.
Only slightly less eccentric than Meek, R&B showman Andre Williams is the subject of Agile Mobile Hostile: A Year With Andre Williams (June 14, 1:15 pm), which presents a sobering snapshot of the death-cheating hipster living on the outer edge of the straight world. Andre has his share of tales to tell, but it’s hard to top the story of the Monks, five bored GIs stationed in Germany in the mid-60s who set out to deconstruct beat music and, as you discover in the film Monks: The Transatlantic Feedback (June 13, 4:30 pm), inadvertantly stumbled onto a frenzied fuzzed-out sound that was punk a full decade before punk. Monks mainman Gary Burger will attend the screening.
Much closer to home, punk rock was thriving at the Horseshoe in 1978 when club bookers the Garys got the boot. But the Viletones, Teenage Head, the Ugly, the Scenics, the Mods, the Secrets and the Cardboard Brains, along with hundreds of irate fans, weren’t going quietly. Fortunately, film student Colin Brunton was there with a camera to capture the music and mayhem for posterity. This will be the first time in nearly 30 years that the original 25-minute version of The Last Pogo (June 15, 5:30 pm) gets a public screening, closing the festival’s solid shorts series with a bang. Go to www.nxne.com for a complete schedule.