Lily Keber's Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker

Today we announced the lineup for Sound + Vision, a music documentary series! The films on tap explore various aspects of music, from portraits of musicians and music festivals, to Broadway plays and Korean Pop groups.

“Sometimes music is a lifeline for the musician, sometimes a springboard,” said Film Society Programmer Isa Cucinotta, “but it always serves to unite listeners and it is that energy that is captured in these films.”

In Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker, director Lily Keber uses archival footage and interviews to capture the life of a musician described as “The Piano Prince of New Orleans,” “The Black Liberace,” and “The best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.” In another highlight, Korean pop (or K-pop) singers undergo transformations in order to fit the mold created by their record company and achieve worldwide fame in 9 Muses of Star Empire. In Broadway Idiot, director Doug Hamilton gives us a behind-the-scenes look into the production of American Idiot, the Broadway play inspired by the music of Green Day.

Hark Joon-Lee's K-pop doc 
9 Muses of Star Empire

FunkJazz Kafé: Diary of a Decade is a soul-star-studded documentary about the music festival in Atlanta and the renaissance in soul music it helped create. The film includes appearances by Cornel West, Cee Lo Green, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, George Clinton, Doug E. Fresh, Roy Ayers, Jamie Foxx, and others. In a film almost a decade in the making, director Bobbi Jo Hart follows her subject Marika Bournaki from age 12 to 20 in I Am Not a Rock Star, as Bournaki grows from a talented piano student to a professional musician.

“This series is an homage to the people who create our music, who struggle and work to have it heard and, when they succeed, help us connect with one another. Music is a catalyst for rebellion, progress, and fulfillment on both a personal and social level,” added Cucinotta.

Tickets for Sound + Vision screenings will go on sale Thursday, June 27. Check out the full lineup below:

New York Premiere!
Director: Poull Brien
Country: USA
Filmmaker Poull Brien met Charles Bradley while they were shooting a music video together and decided to follow this unassuming, talented singer in the months leading up to the release of his first album, No Time for Dreaming, at the age of 62. After a lifetime struggling with poverty, a broken family and illiteracy, Bradley gets his break with Daptone Records, a Brooklyn-based soul, funk and gospel label. While his earlier performances were often killer James Brown impersonations, he reveals himself as a talented soul singer and songwriter in his own right. Bradley is able to hold on to his warmth and honesty through the years of hardship, and realize his dreams of a singing career.
Director Poull Brien & subject Charles Bradley in person for Q&A!
Friday, July 26 at 6:30

North American Premiere!
Director: Hark-Joon Lee
Country: South Korea
Nine young women are followed for a year as they train to be the next big K-pop sensations as part of a new girl group, the Nine Muses. Selected for their looks more than their singing ability by the powerful Star Empire Agency, they undergo intense scrutiny and criticism as they are molded into the image created by the CEO. They prepare for their debut at the annual K-pop festival Dream Concert with relentless rehearsals, but the sacrifice is all for that shot at fame.
Friday, July 26 at 4:30pm
Tuesday, July 30 at 8:30pm

New York Premiere!
Director: Hanly Banks
Country: USA
Following Callahan on his 2011 tour through California, the Midwest and back to NYC with beautifully shot images, Banks captures his live performances and moments from life on the road that seem to illustrate his lyrics. Callahan is a private person who enigmatically shares some thoughts on film. A concert film might just be the best way to understand him: “I think when I’m performing live, it’s really just the realest me there is.”
Saturday, July 27 at 3:00pm

New York Premiere!
Director: Lily Keber
Country: USA
“The best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced!” “The Black Liberace!”  “Piano Prince of New Orleans!” Who was this guy and how did he lose that eye? Booker was a musical genius who started with classical training when he was 12; released his first recording at 15 and began performing in clubs at 16; taught Dr. John to play the organ; tutored Harry Connick Jr.; toured in Europe; went to prison; played a unique piano style that combined classical, jazz, blues and ragtime; and died young of drug and alcohol abuse. Lily Keber’s vibrant documentary captures it all through performance footage and interviews with Booker’s friends, supporters and fellow musicians.
Sunday, July 28 at 8:15pm
Monday, July 29 at 3:45pm

Director: Emmett Malloy
Country: USA
Malloy’s film follows Mumford & Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Edward Sharp & the Magnetic Zeros on their 2011 six-city Railroad Revival Tour. From Oakland to New Orleans, the music never seems to stop—on the train, off the train, visiting an Austin high school, and probably in their sleep. The three bands build a genuine friendship with each other and a natural connection with their fans on this joyful whistle stop tour. Big Easy Express won a Grammy for Best Long Form Music Video 2013.
Saturday, July 27 at 7:00pm

U.S. Premiere!
Director: Stéphanie Argerich
Countries: France/Switzerland
The world-renowned pianist Martha Argerich is known to be a very private person. Fortunately for her fans her daughter Stéphanie decided to make a very personal film about her mother. The youngest of the three daughters with three different husbands, there was a lot Stéphanie wanted to know. Although the hard questions are not pushed, a portrait emerges of a great talent struggling to balance her career and children. At 72, Martha and her daughters have a warm relationship despite all they have been through.
Sunday, July 28 at 3:30pm
Tuesday, July 30 at 4:00pm

New York Premiere!
BORN IN CHICAGO (2013) 86m
Director: John Anderson
Country: USA
In 1960s Chicago, a group of middle class white boys fell in love with the blues being performed in the crowded nightclubs by black musicians from the Mississippi Delta. Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, and Hubert Sumlin taught the next generation: Barry Goldberg, Mike Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield, Nick Gravenites, Charlie Musselwhite, and others, who went on to make the music their own. Interviews and performance footage of these “kids,” now in their 70s, trace the lineage and scope of this inspired music.
Friday, July 26 at 9:00pm

Director: Doug Hamilton
Country: USA
Doug Hamilton’s film started out as a behind-the-scenes look at the idiots that thought a punk rock record could translate to a Broadway musical—Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and Spring Awakening director Michael Mayer. But the film becomes much more than that; it chronicles Billie Joe’s growing engagement with the creative process of this new, for him, art form. Hamilton shows the journey including a peek at pre-teen Billie Joe, live concert footage and his Broadway debut.
Director Doug Hamilton and producer Ira Pittelman in person for Q&A!
Monday, July 29 at 8:45pm

Director: Reuben Atlas
Country: USA
Eight brothers make up the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, taking on the music business while trying to adhere to their father’s vision of music as a path to consciousness-raising. First-time director Atlas met them playing on 42nd street and followed them on tour, to meetings, in practice and at home in Chicago with their legendary musician father Phil Cohran. Their story is remarkable not because of their functional, loving family of one dad, three moms and 24 siblings, but because of their true talent and commitment to music while they develop their own ambitions both with and apart from the family.
Saturday, July 27 at 4:45pm

Director: Jason Orr
Country: USA
From the late 1980s to the early 2000s, Atlanta’s underground music scene had a renaissance that pivoted around the FunkJazz Kafe Arts & Music Festival. Here, a new generation of soul singers hit the stage, reinventing the form that was once at the height of mainstream music. The film also explores why there are so few soul bands in today’s commercial music scene. Narrated by Chuck D with appearances by Cornel West, Cee Lo Green, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, George Clinton, N'Dea Davenport, Doug E. Fresh, Roy Ayers, Jamie Foxx and many others, FunkJazz Kafé is chock full of great performance footage.
Director Jason Orr in person for Q&A!
Wednesday, July 31 at 4:00pm

GIMME THE POWER (2012) 101m
Director: Olallo Rubio
Country: Mexico
Gimme the Power starts by tracing the political history of Mexico, from colonization to dictatorship to democracy. Then, true to rock’s form, the band Molotov explodes on stage with critiques of the government’s policies and the state of Mexico today. Despite having won the Latin Grammy Awards four times since 1995, Molotov keeps its identity as a contentious, left-wing, protest band. Rubio’s film works off their message to create one of his own.
Wednesday, July 31 at 9:15pm

New York Premiere!
I AM NOT A ROCK STAR (2012) 85m
Director: Bobbi Jo Hart
Country: Canada
The director follows her subject, Canadian pianist Marika Bournaki, for eight years, watching her development from a 12-year-old gifted piano student to a 20-year-old professional. It’s fascinating to watch the process behind the scenes, but this is equally the story of a young girl growing up, finding her own voice, and learning to take charge of her life. Hart’s patience with her subject pays off as the unfolding story reveals a young woman who is as complex and strong as she is talented.
Director Bobbi Jo Hart and subject Marika Bournaki in person for Q&A!
Tuesday, July 30 at 6:30pm

New York Premiere!
Director: Jeremy Dylan
Country: Australia
Lauderdale had to work hard for his success as he played the country music circuit from NY to LA and fought the frustrations of the music business. His talent won out and he was picked up by Dwight Yoakim’s producer and went on to write hits for George Strait, Patty Loveless, and the Dixie Chicks, among others, winning two Grammys in the process. Australian director Jeremy Dylan discovered Lauderdale on one of his tours and after a little research into his life and career knew he had a story that needed to be told.
Saturday, July 27 at 1:00pm

New York Premiere!
Director: Philip Harder
Country: USA
More document than documentary, according to director Philip Harder, Low Movie brings together the music videos and short movies he’s made with the band Low since their inception in the mid-90s. It documents their evolution musically and personally, as well as their relationship with the director. The work is visually stunning and some has never been available to the public before. The images complement the minimalist aesthetic of the Minnesota-based cult band in this gorgeous, hour-long experience.
Director Philip Harder in person for Q&A!
Monday, July 29 at 6:15pm

New York Premiere!
MUSCLE SHOALS (2013) 102m
Director: Greg Camalier
Country: USA
Muscle Shoals, Alabama, a small town on the Tennessee River, became the birthplace for some of the biggest hits from the 60s on, from Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, The Rolling Stones, Etta James, Gregg Allman and others. Rick Hall opened FAME Studios, bringing together black and white musicians at a time of racial tension. Years later, his studio musicians left to open a rival studio with equal success. Camalier explores through film and interviews the energy and creativity that came together in this amazing place to create the Muscle Shoals sound.
Sunday, July 28 at 6:00pm

New York Premiere!
Director: Jesse Acevedo
Country: USA
Music as political protest still exists in Cuba in the form of rap duo Los Aldeanos. Aldo and El B challenge the government’s social and economic policies, but in doing so they put themselves at real risk, as do the fans that come to see them and the director Jesse Acevedo in even making the film. Filming the Cuban underground scene, Acevedo follows the group with an anonymous crew to hastily promoted performances on the outskirts of town, working hidden cameras. The group has been accused of “anti-socialist sentiments.” It's a revolution against the revolutionaries, and the music is good.
Saturday, July 27 at 9:00pm
Thursday, August 1 at 4:00pm

U.S. Premiere!
Director: Désirée von Trotha
Country: Germany
Filmed at the three-day Festival au Desert held near Timbuktu, Mali, Woodstock in Timbuktu comments on the power of music to unify and resist. The nomadic Kel Tamasheq (Touareg) people come together to preserve their culture, protest inequalities, and stand up to the militant groups and corporations encroaching on their land. Von Trotha highlights three bands, Amanar, Tartit and Bombino who discuss the difficulty and importance of the annual gathering, especially as the specter of war encroaches. Three days of peace and music, and no mud in sight.
Sunday, July 28 at 1:30pm