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TEDGlobal 2014

Vincent Moon and Naná Vasconcelos: Hidden music rituals around the world

October 9, 2014

Vincent Moon travels the world with a backpack and a camera, filming astonishing music and ritual the world rarely sees -- from a powerful Sufi ritual in Chechnya to an ayahuasca journey in Peru. He hopes his films can help people see their own cultures in a new way, to make young people say: "Whoa, my grandfather is as cool as Beyoncé." Followed by a mesmerizing performance by jazz icon Naná Vasconcelos.

Vincent Moon - Filmmaker
Global wanderer Vincent Moon explores and documents vanishing traditions with his evocative ethnomusical films. Full bio

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Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
Vincent Moon: How can we use computers,
00:13
cameras, microphones to represent the world
00:16
in an alternative way,
00:21
as much as possible?
00:23
How, maybe, is it possible to use the Internet
00:25
to create a new form of cinema?
00:28
And actually, why do we record?
00:32
Well, it is with such simple questions in mind
00:37
that I started to make films 10 years ago,
00:40
first with a friend, Christophe Abric.
00:44
He had a website, La Blogothèque,
00:47
dedicated to independent music.
00:50
We were crazy about music.
00:52
We wanted to represent
music in a different way,
00:54
to film the music we love,
the musicians we admired,
00:57
as much as possible, far
from the music industry
00:59
and far from the cliches attached to it.
01:03
We started to publish every week
01:05
sessions on the Internet.
01:08
We are going to see a few extracts now.
01:10
From Grizzly Bear in the shower
01:18
to Sigur Ros playing in a Parisian cafe.
01:21
From Phoenix playing by the Eiffel Tower
01:28
to Tom Jones in his
hotel room in New York.
01:33
From Arcade Fire in an elevator
01:38
in the Olympia
01:40
to Beirut going down
a staircase in Brooklyn.
01:43
From R.E.M. in a car
01:48
to The National around a table at night
01:52
in the south of France.
01:55
From Bon Iver playing with some friends
01:58
in an apartment in Montmartre
02:02
to Yeasayer having a long night,
02:05
and many, many, many more
02:08
unknown or very famous bands.
02:12
We published all those films
02:14
for free on the Internet,
02:16
and we wanted to share
02:18
all those films and represent music
02:21
in a different way.
02:23
We wanted to create
another type of intimacy
02:26
using all those new technologies.
02:29
At the time, 10 years ago actually,
02:30
there was no such project on the Internet,
02:33
and I guess that's why the project we
were making, the Take Away Shows,
02:36
got quite successful,
02:39
reaching millions of viewers.
02:41
After a while, I got a bit —
02:44
I wanted to go somewhere else.
02:48
I felt the need to travel and
to discover some other music,
02:50
to explore the world,
02:53
going to other corners,
02:54
and actually it was also
02:56
this idea of nomadic cinema,
sort of, that I had in mind.
02:58
How could the use of new technologies
and the road fit together?
03:02
How could I edit my films in a bus
03:09
crossing the Andes?
03:11
So I went on five-year travels
03:13
around the globe.
03:15
I started at the time in the digital film
and music label collection Petites Planètes,
03:17
which was also an homage to
French filmmaker Chris Marker.
03:22
We're going to see now a few more extracts
03:25
of those new films.
03:28
From the tecno brega diva of
northern Brazil, Gaby Amarantos
03:35
to a female ensemble in Chechnya.
03:45
From experimental electronic music
in Singapore with One Man Nation
03:51
to Brazilian icon Tom Zé singing
on his rooftop in São Paolo.
03:58
From The Bambir, the great
rock band from Armenia
04:06
to some traditional songs
04:12
in a restaurant in Tbilisi, Georgia.
04:14
From White Shoes, a great retro
pop band from Jakarta, Indonesia
04:19
to DakhaBrakha, the revolutionary
band from Kiev, Ukraine.
04:27
From Tomi Lebrero
04:34
and his bandoneon and his friends
in Buenos Aires, Argentina,
04:36
to many other places
04:40
and musicians around the world.
04:42
My desire was to make it as a trek.
04:45
To do all those films,
04:48
it would have been impossible
04:50
with a big company behind me,
04:51
with a structure or anything.
04:53
I was traveling alone with a backpack —
04:54
computer, camera, microphones in it.
04:57
Alone, actually, but
just with local people,
05:00
meeting my team, which was absolutely not
05:03
professional people, on the spot there,
05:06
going from one place to another
05:09
and to make cinema as a trek.
05:12
I really believed that cinema could be
05:13
this very simple thing:
05:16
I want to make a film and you're going
to give me a place to stay for the night.
05:18
I give you a moment of cinema
and you offer me a capirinha.
05:23
Well, or other drinks,
05:28
depending on where you are.
05:30
In Peru, they drink pisco sour.
05:32
Well, when I arrived in Peru, actually,
05:36
I had no idea about what I would do there.
05:41
And I just had one phone number, actually,
05:46
of one person.
05:53
Three months later,
05:55
after traveling all around the
country, I had recorded 33 films,
05:56
only with the help of local people,
06:00
only with the help of people
06:03
that I was asking all the
time the same question:
06:06
What is important to record here today?
06:08
By living in such a way,
06:13
by working without any structure,
06:15
I was able to react to the moment
06:18
and to decide, oh, this is
important to make now.
06:23
This is important to
record that whole person.
06:26
This is important to create this exchange.
06:29
When I went to Chechnya,
06:33
the first person I met
06:36
looked at me and was like,
06:38
"What are you doing here?
06:40
Are you a journalist? NGO? Politics?
06:42
What kind of problems
are you going to study?"
06:45
Well, I was there to research
06:49
on Sufi rituals in Chechnya, actually —
06:51
incredible culture of Sufism in Chechnya,
06:54
which is absolutely unknown
outside of the region.
06:57
As soon as people understood
07:03
that I would give them those films —
07:05
I would publish them online for free
under a Creative Commons license,
07:07
but I would also really
give them to the people
07:10
and I would let them do
what they want with it.
07:12
I just want to represent
them in a beautiful light.
07:13
I just want to portray them in a way that
07:15
their grandchildren are going
to look at their grandfather,
07:18
and they're going to be like,
07:21
"Whoa, my grandfather is as
cool as Beyoncé." (Laughter)
07:23
It's a really important thing.
07:28
(Applause)
07:30
It's really important,
07:33
because that's the way
07:35
people are going to look differently at
their own culture, at their own land.
07:36
They're going to think about it differently.
07:40
It may be a way to maintain
a certain diversity.
07:42
Why you will record?
07:49
Hmm. There's a really good quote
07:52
by American thinker Hakim Bey
07:54
which says, "Every recording
07:56
is a tombstone of a live performance."
08:00
It's a really good
sentence to keep in mind
08:04
nowadays in an era saturated by images.
08:07
What's the point of that?
08:11
Where do we go with it?
08:12
I was researching. I was still
keeping this idea in mind:
08:15
What's the point?
08:18
I was researching on music, trying to pull,
08:21
trying to get closer to a certain origin of it.
08:23
Where is this all coming from?
08:26
I am French. I had no idea about
08:28
what I would discover,
which is a very simple thing:
08:30
Everything was sacred, at first,
08:33
and music was spiritual healing.
08:36
How could I use my camera,
08:41
my little tool, to get closer
08:44
and maybe not only capture the trance
08:49
but find an equivalent,
a cine-trance, maybe,
08:51
something in complete harmony
08:57
with the people?
09:00
That is now my new research I'm doing
09:03
on spirituality, on new
spirits around the world.
09:07
Maybe a few more extracts now.
09:11
From the Tana Toraja
funeral ritual in Indonesia
09:20
to an Easter ceremony
in the north of Ethiopia.
09:29
From jathilan, a popular trance ritual
09:35
on the island of Java,
09:38
to Umbanda in the north of Brazil.
09:42
The Sufi rituals of Chechnya
09:50
to a mass in the holiest
church of Armenia.
09:57
Some Sufi songs in Harar,
10:07
the holy city of Ethiopia,
10:08
to an ayahuasca ceremony
10:14
deep in the Amazon of
Peru with the Shipibo.
10:16
Then to my new project,
the one I'm doing now
10:24
here in Brazil, named "Híbridos."
10:26
I'm doing it with Priscilla Telmon.
10:27
It's research on the new
spiritualities all around the country.
10:29
This is my quest, my own little quest
of what I call experimental ethnography,
10:34
trying to hybrid all
those different genres,
10:40
trying to regain a certain complexity.
10:48
Why do we record?
10:53
I was still there.
10:56
I really believe cinema teaches us to see.
10:58
The way we show the world
11:02
is going to change the
way we see this world,
11:04
and we live in a moment where the mass media
11:08
are doing a terrible, terrible job
11:10
at representing the world:
11:13
violence, extremists,
11:15
only spectacular events,
11:19
only simplifications of everyday life.
11:21
I think we are recording
11:23
to regain a certain complexity.
11:25
To reinvent life today,
11:29
we have to make new forms of images.
11:34
And it's very simple.
11:38
Muito obrigado.
11:40
(Applause)
11:43
Bruno Giussani: Vincent, Vincent, Vincent.
11:54
Merci. We have to prepare for
the following performance,
11:57
and I have a question for you,
and the question is this:
12:00
You show up in places like the
ones you just have shown us,
12:03
and you are carrying a camera
12:07
and I assume that you are welcome
12:09
but you are not always absolutely welcome.
12:11
You walk into sacred rituals,
12:14
private moments in a village, a town,
12:16
a group of people.
12:20
How do you break the barrier
12:22
when you show up with a lens?
12:24
VM: I think you break it with your body,
12:30
more than with your knowledge.
12:32
That's what it taught me to travel,
12:35
to trust the memory of the body
12:37
more than the memory of the brain.
12:40
The respect is stepping forward,
12:43
not stepping backward, and I really think that
12:45
by engaging your body in the
moment, in the ceremony,
12:48
in the places, people welcome you
12:51
and understand your energy.
12:53
BG: You told me that most of the videos
12:55
you have made are
actually one single shot.
12:57
You don't do much editing.
12:59
I mean, you edited the ones for us
13:01
at the beginning of the sessions
because of the length, etc.
13:03
Otherwise, you just go in and capture
13:05
whatever happens in front of your eyes
13:07
without much planning, and so is that the case?
13:09
It's correct?
13:12
VM: My idea is that I think that
13:13
as long as we don't cut, in a way,
13:15
as long as we let the viewer watch,
13:19
more and more viewers
are going to feel closer,
13:22
are going to get closer to the moment,
13:25
to that moment and to that place.
13:28
I really think of that as a matter
of respecting the viewer,
13:32
to not cut all the time from one place to another,
13:36
to just let the time go.
13:39
BG: Tell me in a few words
about your new project,
13:41
"Híbridos," here in Brazil.
13:43
Just before coming to
TEDGlobal, you have actually
13:45
been traveling around
the country for that.
13:47
Tell us a couple of things.
13:49
VM: "Híbridos" is —
I really believe Brazil,
13:51
far from the cliches, is the greatest
religious country in the world,
13:53
the greatest country
in terms of spirituality
13:57
and in experimentations in spiritualities.
14:00
And it's a big project I'm
doing over this year,
14:03
which is researching in very
different regions of Brazil,
14:06
in very different forms of cults,
14:11
and trying to understand
how people live together
14:13
with spirituality nowadays.
14:15
BG: The man who is going to
appear onstage momentarily,
14:16
and Vincent's going to introduce him,
14:20
is one of the subjects of
one of his past videos.
14:22
When did you do a video with him?
14:26
VM: I guess four years ago,
14:27
four years in my first travel.
14:30
BG: So it was one of
your first ones in Brazil.
14:32
VM: It was amongst the
first ones in Brazil, yeah.
14:35
I shot the film in Recife,
14:38
in the place where he is from.
14:39
BG: So let's introduce him.
Who are we waiting for?
14:41
VM: I'll just make it very short.
14:44
It's a very great honor for
me to welcome onstage
14:45
one of the greatest Brazilian
musicians of all time.
14:48
Please welcome Naná Vasconcelos.
14:51
BG: Naná Vasconcelos!
14:53
(Applause)
14:55
(Music)
15:02
Naná Vasconcelos: Let's go to the jungle.
19:19
(Applause)
23:59

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Vincent Moon - Filmmaker
Global wanderer Vincent Moon explores and documents vanishing traditions with his evocative ethnomusical films.

Why you should listen
Vincent Moon rose to acclaim through the Take Away Show, a blog showcasing his videos of indie rock musicians ranging from The National to REM, shot in intimate (and often unusual) locations with camera phones and other everyday technologies.
 
In 2008, Moon embarked on a worldwide journey with only the possessions and video tools he could carry on his back, eschewing profit and a traditional career for a nomadic lifestyle. He has wandered from Central Europe through Africa and into Northern Brazil, documenting and filming traditional music and sacred traditions for his Creative Commons web publishing initiative, Collection Petites Planètes. The New York Times wrote that "Moon proved it’s possible to reinvent an old, tired format (the music video) using the very thing (the Internet) that supposedly killed it.”
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