Today we are proud to announce that FilmBundle has finally launched! There were many iterations of what our inaugural bundle could’ve been—it was a horror bundle for the longest time, something that we’re still excited to release—but ultimately we’re quite pleased to have settled on the universal theme of music.
We watched many films before settling on the final six that we selected. Many were enjoyable. Some were cringe-worthy. Others turned out not to have much to do with music at all. As we were curating this first bundle ourselves, we wanted to make sure we picked a cohesive group of high-quality films that’d charm audiences and leave them curious for more. We’re very proud of the result.
Here’s a little bit about each film, in the order that they came together for us:
Written by Jim Finn
Directed by Jim Finn
Our first film is also our most avant-garde. Interkosmos is a mockumentary about a failed East German space mission to colonize two moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Interspersed throughout the narration and newsreel footage of the mission are radio recordings of the intimate thoughts shared between the two doomed lovers who piloted the two rockets to the separate colonies. The musical interludes are a combination of experimental tunes and Marxist anthems, highlighted by a girls’ field hockey dance number that will evoke nostalgia for anyone who grew up with the rigidly choreographed propaganda popularized behind the Iron Curtain. Called the “Best Shoestring SciFi of 2006” by Wired magazine, Interkosmos is both strange and fantastic all at once.
Written by James Burzelic and Daniel Grzeskowiak
Directed by James Burzelic
This is a puppet zombie musical. How could we possibly not watch it? What we saw was one of the funniest and most violent puppet movies since Puppet Monster Massacre, but with catchy musical numbers to keep the mood light and cheerful. Viewers could watch Misfit Heights half a dozen times without finding every subtle joke and homage to classic horror movies hidden the film, but they’d certainly have fun searching.
Written by Benito Bautista
Directed by Benito Bautista
We sorted through a vast array of musical documentaries in our research, but only came away with a couple. The first was Harana, which follows classically trained guitarist Florante Aguilar as he returns to his homeland of the Philippines in search of the dying art of harana, a traditional form of courtship where men wooed women by singing underneath their windows at night. In the most remote villages, Florante finds three master haranistas and brings them together to perform this lost art across the Philippines and in America. Described by Variety as “an infectiously winning example of the ‘Buena Vista Social Club’-style docu,” Harana serenades viewers with the songs and culture of a departed era.
The Ghost of Piramida
Directed by Andreas Koefoed
Here’s another documentary about musicians making a long trek to find inspiration, though its similarities with Harana generally end there. In the summer of 2011, Danish band Efterklang traveled to the abandoned Russian mining town of Piramida to collect audio for their new album. Intercut with Efterklang’s hunt for the perfect sounds and interactions with their surly polar bear guard, a former Piramida citizen narrates the history of the town over archival footage of when it flourished in the Soviet era. The Ghost of Piramida was selected as one of the top three music films of 2012 at IDFA, the world’s largest documentary film festival, and will fill viewers with a sense of wonder at the stark beauty of its eponymous location and the haunting sounds that it produced.
Punching the Clown
Written by Henry Phillips and Gregory Viens
Directed by Gregory Viens
Hilarious comedian Henry Phillips plays hilarious comedian Henry Phillips in this semi-autographical comedy about his unlikely rise and spectacular fall in Hollywood. The songs in this Slamdance-winning film are both hysterical and poignant, while its depiction of the entertainment industry is almost too accurate to be called a parody. Billed by comic icon Sarah Silverman as “the best movie about comedy I’ve seen so far” and by non-comic-but-still-counts icon Moby as “the funniest movie I’ve seen in years,” Punching the Clown is filled with heartfelt emotion and will leave you both laughing and moved.
Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench
Written by Damien Chazelle
Directed by Damien Chazelle
Writer/director Damien Chazelle may have won both the Audience and Grand Jury prizes at Sundance this year with his latest feature Whiplash, but he can trace much of his success back to his acclaimed first feature, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench. This film, in the style of old Hollywood musicals, follows up-and-coming trumpeter Guy and introverted daydreamer Madeline as they break up and find their way in a whimsical version of contemporary Boston filled with genuine characters, jazz performances and song-and-dance numbers. After being selected by and winning awards at a throng of prominent film festivals, we are now thrilled to have Guy and Madeline as the anchor to our first bundle.