Sunday, March 11, 2018

Making the Grade (2018) SXSW 2018

Portrait of a spectrum of people studying for the graded piano exams in Ireland and their teachers. The students range in age from small children to older adults. They all share a love of music and a desire to be as best as they can be.

A sweet little film appears to be little more than people sitting at pianos and playing and practicing. However the film quietly reveals itself to be something more as all the students and teachers explain why they play, why they teach and what music means to them. It’s a film that builds in power as it goes on as all the words build to a quite swell of emotion.

What truly makes the film special are the frequent flashes of insight or pithy exchanges that punctuate the film. When the guard is down and the inner selves comes out the film sings with life and laughter such as when a nun is flummoxed by a student who asks about her costume. It does not go as expected and the result is sting of laughter. It’s the stings of laughter and the unexpected moments of understanding that lift the film up from being just another music documentary and make it something special.

Worth a look when it plays at at SXSW. For more information and tickets go here.

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