I hadn't known much about Montreal band Karkwa before, but the film turned me into a fan.
Not to sound like your cranky Grandma or anything, but Karkwa's sound is a joyful contrast to the stuff I usually hear thumping out of cars on the street or leaking out of iPods on the bus and metro.
The music is poetic (we get to see the first verse of each song onscreen) and melodic, with occasional hints of wistfulness or melancholy.There are some interesting things going on percussion-wise, too.
There's a great camaraderie among the musicians and they obviously enjoy what they're doing. No angst here....
The movie features songs from the band's most recent album, Les cendres de verre. It has two segments that look like music videos - one, the impressive opening segment, has computer-generated images of stars and fires and explosions and such, the other, not so interesting for me, has a quivering, semi-animated houseplant and a distressed woman.
Otherwise, the film is mostly made up of performances and rehearsals. Sometimes the lighting is dim but it's also rich, warm and golden, providing a nice, cozy feeling.
At one concert, the band members leave the stage and walk out the door, still playing. The audience follows them outside, where they play around a bonfire in the snow. Pied pipers for modern times.
When the group visits the sumptuous, gilt-encrusted St. Jean- Baptiste Church (the one on Rachel St.) the keyboardist has a great time playing the Casavant organ while the other band members sing and play in the pews.
Karkwa gave four performances recently at SXSW the music, movie, techie fest in Austin, Texas.
Today (Saturday, March 26, 2011) the band won a pre-telecast Juno Award for best francophone album of the year.
Last year, Karkwa won the ADISQ Prize for best alternative album and the Polaris Prize for best Canadian Album of the Year.
The Karkwa song La pyromane is on the sound track of the new comedy Jesus Henry Christ, which will be shown at New York's Tribeca Film Festival next month. (Julia Roberts produced the film.)
Karkwa: Les cendres de verre will be shown Saturday March 26, 2011 at 9 p.m. at FIFA, (but that show is SOLD OUT).
There will be an extra screening (it's not on the printed schedule) Sunday, March 27 at 6:30 at the Cinémathèque québécoise 335 de Maisonneuve Blvd. E.
The film will also be shown at Cinema du Parc, April 9 -13.
By LIZ FERGUSON SAT, MAR 26 2011