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Bobbing Heads Prove the Blues Work


By Laura Garber (Ebert Young Writers Participant) 

Daniel Cross’ I Am the Blues is a rhythmically stunning documentary focused on the key legends of Mississippi and Louisiana blues. Audience participation is involuntary; feet shake the floor, heads sway in time with the music. It’s a feel-good documentary that exemplifies the importance of this type of filmmaking.

The lack of a complicated plot leaves room for the story to flourish. I Am the Blues follows the charismatic last legends as they reminisce of the days where the blues was more than just a few notes. It’s hard not to love the characters who portray humor, story, and love for a dying sound.

Without pushing the agenda, Cross is careful to have the audience adore the Blues before it is apparent that the genesis of this music is coming to an end. Letting the film breathe rhythm and blues allowed for the Blues to perceive a message greater than a film could ever grasp. Again, this instills the importance of documentary filmmaking. When the old legends of Mississippi sit around reliving their stories, they are inspired to play again and it brings up a question how much influence the filmmakers had in bringing these last legends together again.

Audio plays an essential part of the film, making every audible sound primitive to the experience. The B-roll audio is careful to make a rhythmic beat within. The director takes careful note to go as far as adding music when a boy is listening to his iPod in the distance of an establishing shot, an ode to detail.

Sit back, relax, and transcend into the Blues with this historic capture of those who lived and loved for the blues.

As a part of our Ebert Young Writers Program for the Arts, we will be publishing the participants reviews and interviews they produce for the workshop on the official HIFF blog.

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