This past evening I had the pleasure of attending a screening of the 1994 indie film Rhythm Thief, which as some of you might remember, I previously wrote about in an article calling on Criterion to pick the movie up for distribution. There is something about this film that has mystified me since I first saw it and even though I have had multiple opportunities to sit down with filmmaker Matt Harrison to discuss his work, it was starting to sink in that no amount of Q&A’ing was going to help me figure out what was going on with this movie.
Tonight, I’ve made some progress. The film screened as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s “Cinématek Overdue” series. Along with a screening of an actual 35mm print (which I rarely see these days), the event included a wonderfully detailed and enthusiastic Q&A with Harrison and his cast and crew, including actors Jason Andrews, Kevin Corrigan and Kimberly Flynn.
Aside from the usual battle stories which I had already been familiar with, one of the key components I discovered that makes this film special is the obvious rapport the participants have with one-another. It’s clear to me now that Rhythm Thief works because it is a film made out of love, not just love for the craft, but love between the people involved and that love, which has lasted two decades, is exactly what has been translated onto the screen. This is an element that is so important to the creative process, but is often overlooked by young indie filmmakers today, many of whom would easily sacrifice a friendship or two in exchange for time on a Red Epic.
Experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas wrote in his Anti-100 Years Manifesto, “The real history of cinema is invisible history: history of friends getting together, doing the thing they love.” I’ve used this quote before and will again because it’s important and absolutely true. Today I witnessed that same love, between all of the people involved in the making of this 90’s classic and I realize too that I can see that love come alive every time I take a gander at the work they all created together. Thankfully, I have taken a major leap forward in demystifying this amazing work.
Thanks for putting up with my romanticism.
Rhythm Thief is available for streaming on YouTube, Amazon and on DVD through Netflix and Kino.