Directed by MANI MEHRVARZ Music by WOODEN CITIES Animation by MARYAM MULIAEE Produced by BUFFALO DOCUMENTARY PROJECT and WOODEN CITIES Featuring BRENDAN FITZGERALD, MEGAN KYLE, ETHAN HAYDEN, NICHOLAS EMMANUEL, EVAN COURTIN, KATIE WEISSMAN
How does a group of musicians come together to create an entirely new work of art? WORK, a new film from director Mani Mehrvarz, follows Wooden Cities, the Buffalo-based collective of performers and composers, as they record their latest album.
Continuing our city’s storied history of experimental and political music, Wooden Cities has long aimed to bring music by Buffalo composers to a wider audience. Their work ranges from free improv to the thoroughly notated—and everything in between. While Wooden Cities’ latest album is the culmination of years of work, bringing together the most exciting pieces from their history as a group, each performance is entirely unique.
WORK captures the collective’s democratic process, as the ensemble decides what kind of music they want to make—and the new Wooden Cities’ album begins to take form. A testament to passion of the performers and the thrill of creation, the film itself is a work of interdisciplinary art, melding documentary footage, music, and cutting-edge animation.
WORK documents the recording process of the first in a trilogy of albums by the Buffalo-based new music ensemble, Wooden Cities, grappling with issues of labor, environmental justice, and workplace democracy. The 56-minute documentary features footage captured during the ensemble's summer 2018 recording sessions, as well as Mehrvarz’s interviews with the musicians and ensemble director Brendan Fitzgerald. The film also includes animations of two sections of the recorded premiere of Frederic Rzewski’s The Price of Oil, made using stop motion techniques and consisting of over 80,000 frames. Also featured are Cornelius Cardew’s Red Flag Prelude—an elegiac commemoration of the martyrs of the early labor movement—and Wooden Cities’ Chain Gang, a dynamic, structured improvisation.
Watch the film here