Sydney Festival: Vincent Moon

25 January 2012

Vincent Moon: the cliché of a French filmmaker?
Vincent Moon: the cliché of a French filmmaker?

During this decidedly low-fi get-together, Vincent Moon addresses the audience as though we are all his Facebook friends, while he makes desultory conversation with co-host and fellow filmmaker Ameilia Tovey about his methods and inspirations.

I'd never heard of Moon before now, but his black-and-white photograph in the Sydney Festival program drew me to his one-off show, if that's what you can call it, at the Seymour Centre on Sunday night.

In the photo he looked like the cigarette-smoking auteur, moody and good-looking, but during his show he says that the choice of this photo is embarrassing, "the cliché of a French filmmaker".

Moon's nonchalance about being a French cliché is perhaps warranted given that when he presses play on his laptop on stage, the films turn out to be genuinely untainted by filmmaking artifice.

Known for his ability to become part of the situation he's shooting, as much as he is for his single-take videos of bands such as The National, Sigur Ros and Arcade Fire, Moon might be what old fogeys (moi?) call "a YouTube sensation".

Embracing digital technologies and the distribution capabilities of the internet, Moon, in his series called Take Away Shows, has come to set the agenda in a new form of filmmaking that aims to capture life's immediacies and rhythms.

Using Western pop music as his launching pad and the internet as his base, Moon has since branched out into ethnographic expeditions, travelling the world for the past three years, documenting a diversity of musical experiences.

He shows us some of his most recent work shot in Paris, Indonesia and Singapore and they are simple, poetic and intimate. Each time he shows a film, he joins the audience off-stage to watch, showing that he is clearly still excited by his own work and chuffed to see it on the big screen.

With his easygoing but memorable work he has spawned a generation of imitators, but I can only imagine that it would be hard for most to genuinely reproduce the curious world of Vincent Moon, this artist with a camera.

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