A world premiere in the Forum section for this year’s Berlinale programme, Rewind & Play, is a documentary by director Alain Gomis about American jazz musician and composer Thelonious Monk when he visited Paris in 1969. Yet Gomis also makes a powerful comment about the machine of manufactured media before the film’s zenith half way through its duration, when the artistic marvel of Monk begins to unravel before our eyes.
Rewind & Play is just a little over an hour long and it is one of these rear moments in the archive history of film and TV that underlines the importance of moving image heritage. For his new film, Gomis, whose previous feature Félicité was honoured in 2017 Berlinale’s main competition, unearthed a treasure that’s never seen before. He used uncut material from the production of a filmed interview between Thelonious Monk and Henri Renaud, host of a French TV programme called ‘Jazz Portrait’.
We don’t know if Gomis edited the sequence of how the interview recording progressed during that December date of 1969 in Paris. However, its reductive style conducted by Monk’s interviewer, surprisingly also a jazz pianist himself, is illiterate enough for an uncomfortable watch. Significantly though, it’s Thelonious Monk who was repelled by the interviewer’s frivolous questions. But Monk’s artistic genius becomes the driving force for a spellbinding set, a piano performance that concludes an otherwise insulting interview in a glorious way.
Rewind & Play is a work of art against the media factory but also a unique insight into journalism. Besides, it’s a remarkable example of archive film usage in contemporary filmmaking and a glimpse of 1960s fashion with elegant Monk and his chic wife Nellie arriving in Paris. Watch out for her gorgeous shades!
Here at 11polaroids desk we wish Rewind & Play a worldwide success and most importantly, a release in UK and Greece soon.
Rewind & Play is produced by Sphere Films and Andolfi. It is funded by INA, ARTE France – La Lucarne, Les Films du Worso, Schortcut Films, Die Gesellschaft DGS and Le Studio Orlando.