Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Junun” documentary on Jonny Greenwood and Israeli musician Shye Ben Tzur will debut at NYFF

By on August 23, 2015

Paul Thomas Anderson is one of Night Flight’s favorite directors, and we recently read that his next film is actually going to be an intimate documentary about Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood and his trip to Rajasthan in northwest India, where he recorded an album during a month-long session with an Israeli musician Shye Ben Tzur and other illustrious local musicians.

The resulting film, Junun, will have it world premiere at the New York Film Festival, which takes place from September 25 to October 11. We found this performance of Shye Ben Tzur, featuring Greenwood, for you to enjoy until Junun is in theaters.

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Paul Thomas Anderson on location in Jodhpur, India

Junun — which is 54-minutes long and wil feature a number of languages in addition to English, including Hindu, Hebrew, and Urdu (all with English subtitles) — is PTA’s first music documentary (he’s done music videos for artists like Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann and, most recently, Joanna Newsom), and it will screen as part of the festival’s Special Events and Revivals sections, as part of their “Film Comment Presents” series, originally launched during NYFF in 2013 with the premiere of the award-winning 12 Years a Slave. According to the New York Film Festival, Junun “lives and breathes music, music-making, and the close camaraderie of artistic collaboration. It’s a lovely impressionistic mosaic and a one-of-a-kind sonic experience: the music will blow your mind.”

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Regarding Junun, as it says at this Filmic link,

“Their destination was the 15th-century Mehrangarh Fort, where Greenwood (with the help of Radiohead engineer Nigel Godrich) was recording an album with Israeli composer Shye Ben Tzur and an amazing group of musicians: Aamir Bhiyani, Soheb Bhiyani, Ajaj Damami, Sabir Damami, Hazmat, and Bhanwaru Khan on brass; Ehtisham Khan Ajmeri, Nihal Khan, Nathu Lal Solanki, Narsi Lal Solanki, and Chugge Khan on percussion; Zaki Ali Qawwal, Zakir Ali Qawwal, Afshana Khan, Razia Sultan, Gufran Ali, and Shazib Ali on vocals; and Dara Khan and Asin Khan on strings.”

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This past February, Greenwood — who has provided the often-incredible score music for PTA’s films Inherent Vice, The Master and There Will Be Blood — spoke to the Guardian about the experience of recording in India:

“It’s been amazing, actually, working with Indian musicians. They have such a different energy and enthusiasm for music…It’s just, it’s part of life here, it feels, rather than just being an occupation. It’s different; there’s music everywhere. Like when we’re playing and recording or rehearsing with these musicians, when they take a break, they go and play more. That’s not true in England. We just take a break. But here, it’s just this urge to make music, and it’s really inspiring.”

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The festival will also include the North American Premiere of Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s film portrait De Palma, chronicling director Brian De Palma’s illustrious six-decade-long career, his life, and his personal views on the filmmaking process (De Palma’s masterful Blow Out will also screen in Revivals).

Other highlights of the NYFF include Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Chevalier. The NYFF Filmmaker in Residence’s latest film will be making its U.S. Premiere fresh on the heels of the Locarno and Toronto International Film Festivals.

Also screening will be Son Of Saul, which is László Nemes’s shattering film about the horror of Auschwitz, recently won the Grand Prix at Cannes, and has been selected as Hungary’s official entry for the foreign-language film category of the Academy Awards.

Laurie Anderson’s Heart Of A Dog, the director’s first feature in thirty years, is personal response to a commission from Arte, described elsewhere as “a work of braided joy and heartbreak and remembering and forgetting, at the heart of which is a lament for her late beloved piano-playing and finger-painting dog Lolabelle.”

Also, there will be a special anniversary screening of the Coen Brothers’ O Brother Where Art Thou, along with revival screenings of Akira Kurosawa’s Ran, A Touch Of Zen (the 1971 Taiwanese wuxia film directed by King Hu) and an unseen Manoel de Oliveira film, plus much more.

Many of the films featured at NYFF will be international masterpieces from renowned filmmakers whose diverse and eclectic works have been digitally remastered, restored, and preserved with the assistance of generous partners, including Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation, celebrating its 25th anniversary.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.