Ben Niles’ beautiful documentary Note By Note (The Making of Steinway L1037) opens Wednesday at Film Forum. The film, which won the Jury Prize for Best Documentary Film at the 2007 Sarasota Film Festival, is a tremendous accomplishment; It is a film about work, about physical labor and its intersection with artistry, that celebrates the beauty of craftsmanship.
Note By Note (The Making of Steinway L1037)
As a programmer, I try to keep an even keel about films that play at our festival; I love them all like my children. But Ben Niles has made a film that really spoke to me personally, both on an aesthetic and on a political level. As our culture marches onward towards all things disposable and mass-produced, I found it really refreshing to see a film that shows the almost tragic beauty of a dying form of production. As much as it is a celebration of the Steinway piano as an instrument through which artists are able to play beautiful music, Note By Note can also be read as a film about best practices in labor and manufacturing. The movie will endure because it captures this near-utopian community of working people (I’ve never seen a happier, prouder group of workers in my life) at the precise moment when their craft and collaborative spirit seems on the verge of extinction. The trailer is below; I cannot recommend the movie highly enough and I hope that readers will take some time to head to Film Forum and see it on the big screen. It is a movie that deserves both an audience and a thoughtful discussion. Hope to see you there!