College student Sophie Kohn got a film into Ebertfest this year not because her dad Nate is the festival director (though you can’t say it hurt any) but because Roger saw her short film and simply loved it.
Cynical eyes might roll even faster when considering that her film was shot in the scenic south of France, is mostly wordless and features maverick director/friend-of-Ebert Paul Cox as a priest.
As Melissa Merli notes in her local news story, the film, TO MUSIC acquits itself of all charges. Sophie and co-director Feike Santbergen are the real deal. Their short makes a clear and sincere statement about how music can draw us out of our despair, into the light of fellowship. Its super-widescreen frames are precise and packed with details that tell a vast story in mere seconds. The editing helps these shot-canvases course and sing like music, especially when landing upon an astonishingly resonant stray detail.
The feature it was coupled with, VINCENT: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF VINCENT VAN GOGH, is an explosion of color and movement, set to classical music and van Gogh’s words, letters to his brother Theo read by John Hurt. Paul Cox made the film in 1985, and it timelessly turns the cliche of the starving artist into something like gospel for creative people, eccentrics and visionaries.