Our third collaboration with the Manchester Jazz Festival, Jazz on Film returns in July with our now familiar – but very welcome – selection of films that draw upon jazz in both fictional and documentary form. The Jazz on Film season is a great way to showcase an enduring subject in cinema and also to celebrate an event that for one month puts Manchester at the heart of the European jazz community.
Films in this season:
Geordie Jazz Man
Wed 11 Jul 2018 at 18.30
Directed by Abi Lewis
Well-known internationally as Geordie Jazz Man, Keith Crombie was the cranky, contrarian spirit of Newcastle jazz, presiding for years over the English city’s premier dive – the Jazz Café, a home away from home for anyone from Eric Burdon and Wynton Marsalis to generations of young Geordie misfits. A man who refused to bow to changing musical tides, he was the epicentre of a band of similar musicians and thespians and has been the pride of Newcastle Jazz from the 1950s to now. This atmospheric portrait recounts his early adventures in the music business (and, just maybe, the mob) and celebrates a life dedicated to keeping the blue note beat alive.
Milford Graves Full Mantis
Thu 12 Jul 2018 at 18.20
Directed by Jake Meginsky
The first feature-length portrait of the renowned percussionist who has performed internationally since 1964, both as a soloist and in ensembles with such legends as Albert Ayler, Giuseppi Logan and Sonny Sharrock. Graves is a founding pioneer of avant-garde jazz and remains one of the most influential living figures in the evolution of the form. Oscillating from present to past and weaving intimate glimpses of the artist’s complex cosmology with blistering performances from around the globe, the film embodies the intensity of Graves’ music itself.
Space is the Place
Sun 15 Jul 2018 at 15.50
Directed by John Coney
Starring the Afrofuturism jazz star Sun Ra, this loosely-based biopic offers the uninitiated a tantalising glimpse into his fantastical world. Born in 1914 as Herman Poole Blount, he had a vision in his thirties that he had somehow originated from Saturn and promptly changed his name to Sun Ra. Dressed from then on in elaborate Egyptian-inspired papal robes, and arriving in a music-powered space ship, he spent the next 50 years on a mission to enlighten the world with his unique experimental music, and save the black race from social injustice by starting an all-black colony in the sky. Unmissable.
Sun 22 Jul 2018 at 18.10
Directed by Etienne Comar
1943, occupied Paris. Django Reinhardt is at the pinnacle of his art. The brilliant and carefree jazz guitarist, king of ethereal swing, plays to standing-room-only crowds in the capital’s greatest venues. Meanwhile his gypsy brethren are being persecuted throughout Europe. His life takes a turn for the worse when the Nazi propaganda machine wants to send him on tour in Germany…
Featuring Reda Kateb in the title role, the film offers a potent portrait of one of the most brilliant pioneers of European jazz.