REMEMBERING FREDERIC is a film about one pianist s journey into Chopin s world. It weaves together strands from Chopin s tragic life story, combining beautiful footage of the Polish and French sites where this story unfolded, interviews with Polish, French, and American experts and music lovers, Pamela Howland s teaching moments about Chopin s compositional style, and her own heartfelt performances of his masterworks. Also featured is legendary actress Rosemary Harris, Emmy winner for her 1975 performance as Chopin s lover George Sand in the Masterpiece Theatre series NOTORIOUS WOMAN. This unique mix creates a kaleidoscopic view of Chopin s emotional life, music, and genius, not only transporting viewers back to the 19th century, but inviting them to discover the meaning and impact Chopin s genius and music still can have for audiences today.
When Pamela Howland of Lewisville watches Remembering Frederic: The Genius of Chopin, her new film, she sees beautiful churches and famous homes in Europe, not to mention some idyllic countryside. I have to remind myself when I see the movie that … we were there, she said. We got that footage. It's not stock footage. That was kind of a thrill. Remembering Frederic will be screened Tuesday in Hanesbrands Theatre as part of the 2012 RiverRun International Film Festival. It will also be shown May 5 at Wake Forest University. It builds on Remembering Frederic: A Musical Conversation Between Chopin and George Sand, a one-woman show Howland created and presented locally in 2010. Sand, the French novelist, was the lover of Chopin for nine years until they broke up in 1847, two years before Chopin's death. The film Remembering Frederic tells the tragic life story of the famed composer-pianist in kaleidoscopic fashion, combining footage of the Polish and French sites where it unfolded with segments in which Howland either explains Chopin's music or performs it on the piano. There are also numerous interviews with Chopin and Sand experts from the United States, France and Poland. Rosemary Harris of Winston-Salem is featured in Remembering Frederic as the voice of Sand. The film also includes excerpts from Notorious Woman, a Masterpiece Theatre series for which Harris' portrayal of Sand won her an Emmy Award in 1976. Harris is perhaps best-known as Aunt May in the Spider-Man movies. Sometimes, classical music can feel like a select club that so many people don't feel a part of, Howland said. The goal with this movie was to say, 'You don't have to know a thing. You're going to come away hopefully being entertained and you're going to learn something.' The thrill that Howland feels now about Remembering Frederic& isn't the only emotion she remembers feeling. There was also plenty of anxiety over money. Take the clips from Notorious Woman. Though these last a total of about two-and-a-half minutes, using them cost Howland more than $8,000. That killed me, she said. Much of the documentary was made last June when Howland and a small team of local filmmakers, including Daniel McKinny of the UNC School of the Arts faculty, flew to Europe to create Howland's very hands-on journey into Chopin's world. The work there was contingent on Howland raising a minimum of $50,000 in April 2011 at kickstarter.com. Kickstarter is a high-stakes fundraising game. If a project meets or surpasses a funding goal on time, then the credit cards of all backers are charged. If it does not, all pledges are canceled. The idea is to reduce the risk for everyone involved in a project. Fortunately, Howland achieved her fundraising goal. I had many sleepless nights, she said. The buck stopped here. It was a big responsibility. So what kept Howland going? What kept her persevering through the inevitable ups and downs of a project that would end up costing about $90,000? I was just determined, she said. I love this project. I love Chopin. I especially wanted to include Rosemary Harris. She's such a gem. She really was one of my huge inspirations. Harris said Howland has done a wonderful job with Remembering Frederic. It doesn't lecture you about Frederic Chopin, she said. It informs you of all kinds of things … about his life. Beyond RiverRun, Howland hopes to interest college music libraries in purchasing Remembering Frederic. She sees the film as a teaching tool in classrooms, having introduced other films in the Music 101 classes she teaches at Wake Forest University. When I began introducing film clips into my classes, I saw the great power of film for this generation, she said. Film is the medium of our time. It gets to the most people. --Ken Keufffel, Winston-Salem Journal, 4/15/2012