It was in the middle of the summer 2008, i received a long email from a japanese ‘fan’. Looked like it was just some lovely words, advising me to film a japanese musician, a certain rare folk artist named Tomokawa something. It took me 4 more months to re-read the email until the end – and discover that this fan was actually inviting me to Japan to make a movie about his idol.
We went there for 2 weeks, in march 2009, and this filming experience was by far the most important of my life.
Kazuki Tomokawa, that’s his name, 59 year old man, at first the exact idea you could get of a cinema character straight from a yakuza movie, a guitar in his hand and a scream in his mouth. But then the camera allows you to explore more and makes you discover the multiple layers of his existence and belief in life, his past as an actor for Oshima or Miike, his passion for bike race gambling, his unstoppable addiction to alcohol, his amazing skills as a painter, and his troubled past with his son, you soon got the feeling there’s only one Tomokawa Kazuki. As there was only one Rimbaud.
The other day, while working on the edit of ‘La Faute des Fleurs’, a friend of mine was helping to translate certain sequences. At some point, she would suddenly burst into tears. At the question what happened, she turned to me and said, ‘it’s the way he speaks… he is like a poem’.
Tomokawa, the screaming philosopher.
Vincent Moon was born in Paris in 1979. At the ago of 18, he decided he wanted to see it all, to learn things on his own, out of curiosity, even if that could have led to overfeeding, and so for ten years. From that experience, images came out, through photography first, which he studied under the influence of Michael Ackerman and Antoine D’Agata. Some years later, as he discovered the work of Peter Tscherkassky, his images gained movement/motion. He made use of the Internet and developed various projects related to music, directing videos for Clogs, Sylvain Chauveau, Barzin, The National. In 2006, overwhelmed by the beauty of Step Across the Border, directed by Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel, on the English guitarist Fred Frith, he created with Chryde the Take Away Shows project, La Blogotheque’s video podcast (takeawayshows.com).
This series of outdoor/wild documentaries consists in improvised video sessions with musicians, set in unexpected locations and broadcast freely on the web. In 3 years, he managed to shoot over a hundred clips with bands like REM, Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, Beirut, Grizzly Bear and many more. He perfected a style immediately recognizable of intimate, fragile, dancing and shadowing long shots, and at the same time changed the whole idea of what should be a music video. The whole â€˜conceptâ€™ has been then exported throughout the world by lots of young filmmakers inspired by this natural organic approach to music.
While he works on his Take Away shows, Vincent Moon also keeps side projects, exploring other formats, experimenting relations between images and sounds. He directed a movie-essay on New York band The National titled A skin, A night, released in May 2008, was the main creator of the cult Miroir Noir, a 76min movie on The Arcade Fire and then worked closely with Michael Stipe and REM on several video and web projects related to their most recent album : the 48â€™ essay 6 Days, a free documentary on the recording of Accelerate, the experimental ninety-days-long web project called 90nights (www.ninetynights.com), the video and unique website for the single Supernatural Superserious (www.supernaturalsuperserious.com/), and the acclaimed â€˜This Is Not a Showâ€™ (co-directed by Jeremiah, the other young French music director), a live movie on their Dublin performances considered as one of the most unique live movies of all time.
He released in November 2007, with Chryde the founder of La Blogotheque, a very unique film with Beirut, all the 12 songs from his new album being filmed in the streets of Brooklyn, in a fake one-take experiment.
In his attempt to find new ways to film music, distancing himself from mainstream and commercial formats, he filmed in 2006 an average length gonzo film on the ATP Festival, Sketches from a nightmare, the first of a serie on this festival, and participated actively to the 90min film â€˜All Tomorrowâ€™s Partiesâ€™, released in 2009 to critical acclaims. In October 2007, Warp Films signed him up as a music video director.
Another part of his life is now dedicated to long portraits on cult and rare musicians â€“ created with Antoine Viviani and Gaspar Claus, longtime collaborators, the serie â€˜Musiciens de Notre Tempsâ€™ â€“ two volumes have been finished so far, â€˜Little Blue Nothingâ€™ on the Havels, a mythical couple from Prague, and â€˜La Faute des Fleursâ€™, often considered to be his best work, on Kazuki Tomokawa, extreme Japanese folk singer.
Another band he has been working with for a long time now are the cult post rockers from Glasgow, Mogwai â€“ â€˜Burningâ€™, a 50â€™ live film on a performance they did in Brooklyn (co-directed by Nat Le Scouarnec), is a radical vision of live music, and is famous for having created a lot of blackouts amongst its audience, due to its extremely violent rhythm.
Exploring new forms and territories being not only a metaphor, Vincent Moon has its own blog (fiumenights.com) where he deals with visionary notions about images, society and new technologies, and is developing now what will be his lifetime project: to document local energies around the world, as temporary areas, one shot performances/films, where the audience is welcome to participate, and not only dedicated to music this time. The first territories explored are Temporary Copenhagen (http://temporarycopenhagen.com/) , Temporary Athens, Temporary Barcelonaâ€¦
A lot is still to comeâ€¦