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« March 15, 2013

SXSW 2013 Film Reviews: 'Pete and Toshi Get a Camera'

Home movies gain a global significance
Review by Wayne Alan Brenner

Pete and Toshi Get a Camera

24 Beats per Second, World Premiere
D: William Eigen; with Pete Seeger, Toshi Seeger

This is a documentary of cinematic documentation: Director William Eigen has curated the 16mm, black-and-white home movies shot by legendary folk singer Pete Seeger and his wife Toshi back in the early 1960s and interlaced them with modern-day interviews with the Seegers and their now-adult children to bring us a historical record of the music of those times. Seeger started filming after having been blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee (you remember those paranoid government creeps?), and he figured he'd pass the time filming his family and friends – Odetta, Sonny Terry, and Big Bill Broonzy among them. But it's when the banjo-playing folkie decides to travel around the world with his wife and three kids, filming traditional musicians and practices in countries from Israel to Japan to Poland to the Fiji Islands to the Soviet Union (at the height of the Cold War), that these cultural proofs gain a truly global significance.

Saturday, March 16, 3pm, Paramount
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