Vincent Moon in MiamiI’ve been a fan of Vincent Moon since 2010, however, I had never heard about him until last week. Before then, I had spent countless hours watching La Blogothèque videos and other films directed by Moon but never paid attention to his name. I became aware of this videos by just searching for music that I like, which I often play it in the background, but there was something so unique about the videos from La Blogothèque. They are filled with a humanity that is usually absent from music videos, the type of incredible connection you can have to a musician during a live concert. These videos were also adventurous, often featuring some kind of action in the streets that just seemed very exciting and spontaneous. It was only until I listened to Moon talk about his artistic philosophy and filming style at an event hosted by the Indie Film Club last week that I understood how someone can encapsulate so much humanity into a very small video.

Last Thursday, July 24, I attended a retrospective on Moon’s work (read our preview interviews here). It sounded half bombastic to me: attending a retrospective for a guy who’s not 35 yet and has not released commercial work under the auspices of a big production house. Nonetheless, I was intrigued because of my own personal connection to the music that is in most of his work. The setting was The Screening Room, a small gallery in Wynwood, an unassuming room filled with fold out chairs and dozens of aspiring filmmakers.

The talk started as a friendly Q&A led by Diliana Alexander, Indie Film Club’s executive director, who admitted to the audience, “I’ve been trying to bring Vincent to Miami for years.” And there he was in front of an eager, capacity audience. He described his philosophy of making films as an artist would. He creates content that is free of charge and uploads it to Vimeo, YouTube or his own website for everyone to enjoy. His budgets are non-existent. “I believe it keeps things pure,” he said in a heavy French accent (he grew up in Paris, but has no specific home since about 2008). Indeed, the artist approaches each project from a human perspective, his goal, he described, is to make people look beautiful and showcase beauty through what they do: music. But much to my surprise he sees music as an expression of community and culture. He looks at musicians as generators of culture or providers of meaning as a cultural expression.

Vincent Moon and Diliana Alexander

Diliana Alexander and Vincent Moon

Moon quickly took over the conversation and often interrupted the discussion to share some of his favorite videos. In all of the highlights he shared, he described them as an experience that could not be replicated. Someone in the audience asked him about preparation ahead of each shoot. He said he travels around the world and meets with different musicians and people whom he records, but there’s no direction. When asked about research, he scoffed, paused and said that he traveled to each location without preconceived ideas. That’s when I understood the marvel behind the videos because you are experiencing with him something unique through his camera lens. One of my favorite videos he shared that night is the following. It took place in Argentina and you can see how it captures a moment in time that is quite special. The background sounds add an atmospheric layer that cannot be replicated– Moon mentioned it was firecrackers among other sounds that you can hear in the background adding an almost surreal percussive accompaniment.

As the night went on, a lot of the filmmakers wanted to know how he survives financially or how the artists themselves benefit, as his work is freely available to anyone for download. He was a little puzzled by the questions, just as puzzled as the audience about his disregard for “making it big.” He picks places based on a feeling and admits that his worry is the opposite. His concern is how big budgets actually take away something from his work. He relishes the freedom and challenge of working with minimal resources because limitations spark his own creativity.

I am only thankful to Indie Film Club for creating a space where directors like him can be featured at Miami venues. I leave you with my favorite videos (part I and II) from the Take Away shows. Shot in Colombia, featuring Bomba Estereo. I love how the music blends with the landscape…

Ana Morgenstern

(Copyright 2014 by Ana Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

Brazil ProtestThe relationship between art and politics is a dynamic co-constitutive one. Art sparks the imagination of young people, unites visions and created a narrative for other possible worlds. Politics sometimes provide the fuel for the creative fire. Latin America today is undergoing a social upheaval. A new generation unaccustomed to dictatorship but unsatisfied with the current political terrain says as much.

Connected to the world like never before, the young are not only taking to the social media and the arts, but they are also taking to the streets. Their powerful voices can be heard in the streets and now too they are here for our enjoyment. Unlike previous protest songs that had to co-exist with a more repressive regime via subversive subtext, these songs are more direct and to the point. However, they maintain the strength and resolution of artists such as Victor Jara, a Chilean singer songwriter who died in captivity.

1. Un Derecho de Nacimiento – Various Artists

A melange of some of the most important contemporary artists in Mexico City sing together: “Yo no naci sin causa/ yo no naci sin fe” (“I wasn’t born without a cause, I wasn’t born without faith”). They sing in this video in front of the Monument of the Mexican Revolution, a powerful message with a visual to match.

2. Señor Matanza – Mano Negra

An earlier song dealing with two of the biggest issues in Latin America: land reform and wealth disparity. It explores the relationship between powerful landowners, politics and the impoverished that live off the land that does not belong to them. “Su palabra es ley” (”His word is the law”). Concentration of power to the extreme without rule of law is a recipe for injustice.

3. Voto Latino – Molotov

With a playful though hostile and often profane attitude Molotov calls attention to racism and separation. “Pinta tu madre patria de colores/ para que puedas ver la difference entre los others.” Translation: “Paint your own motherland in colors, so you can tell the difference between los otros.” Indeed, separations through indicators as silly as colors are often the source of tension and the cause of human injustice. Molotov’s spanglish lyrics also call attention to the interrelatedness across sometimes artificial barriers.

4. Vem Pra Rua – O Rappa

A reaction to the recent wave of social mobilizations in Brazil. “Vem Pra Rua” became one of the most important hashtags on twitter and a call to action to literally “go out to the streets.” Showcasing some of the many issues that have people fed up, the video shows clips from the June protests.

5. Cancion Protesta – Aterciopelados

A softer, upbeat song by one of the most important Colombian bands, Aterciopelados. “Cancion de Protesta” is a call to think for ourselves, to be critical without being accused of anti-patriotism. Independent thinking should not be labeled as terrorism. This is indeed a proud representative of independent spirit, a necessary component of democracy.

Music has the potential to change the world. As Bono has rightly promoted protest songs with the agit8 movement to end poverty, so have these artists incorporated some of the many concerns for a better world. Post below if you have a favorite song that makes you a more conscious global citizen.

Ana Morgenstern

(Copyright 2013 by Ana Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)