Wex live documentary features narration by Sam Green and music by Kronos Quartet
Sam Green doesn't intend to screw up, and hopes he doesn't screw up, as the live host/narrator/guide for “A Thousand Thoughts,” the Wexner Center-commissioned live documentary he made about and with the vanguard modern ensemble Kronos Quartet.
But Green could screw up, and he admits that possibility is not only part of the appeal of the form, but it's part of the excitement for him as a filmmaker who has chosen to participate in the performative presentation.
Green and Kronos will be onstage at Mershon Auditorium Thursday, Jan. 25, providing narration and live music, respectively, as the film is screened. This type of collaboration has been done by Green before (see his “The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller” with Yo La Tengo), but “A Thousand Thoughts,” which Green called “probably one of the most ambitious films I've ever made” in a recent phone interview, takes the concept a step further.
After making a short film about Kronos a couple years back, Green was asked if he'd be interested in doing a longer work. He balked, saying, “I usually don't like music docs very much,” but the idea lingered.
“I was really taken with Kronos Quartet, and I kept thinking, ‘How can I make this work?'” Green said. “I've been doing these live pieces, and I felt like that's actually kind of the perfect film for it.”
The film features archival footage and photos interspersed with interviews Green did with members of the quartet, collaborators and other members of the classical music scene. The quartet will perform key works from its 40-plus-year history live onstage, and Green will provide commentary. Green credited the quartet with allowing him to pursue the project as he chose.
“It's a portrait of Kronos, not a definitive [documentary] or biopic,” Green said. “I didn't want to make a tribute to them, but rather use a portrait of them to access these larger ideas. To their credit … they're experimental, into new things. When I described the project to [Kronos founder] David Harrington, he said, ‘I don't get it. Would it be a movie or a concert or a lecture?' And I said it would kind of be all three. He said, ‘I love it. Let's do it.' They're cool like that.”
Green said the live music and commentary is more than just “meta.” It's what makes the project work.
“There's a difference between a movie you see that is all put together and it's never going to change and never not going to work, and something you're seeing that's never going to be the same way twice and could completely fuck up at any point,” Green said. “It's like going without a net, and there's an excitement and energy that comes from that, too.”