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Step Across the Border - Nicolas Humbert & Werner Penzel


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Product Details

  • Actors: Jonas Mekas, Julia Judge, John Spaceley, Tom Walker, Ted Milton
  • Directors: Nicolas Humbert, Werner Penzel
  • Writers: Nicolas Humbert, Werner Penzel
  • Producers: Res Balzli
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Winter & Winter
  • DVD Release Date: August 5, 2003
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008N5QT
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,815 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Step Across the Border - Nicolas Humbert & Werner Penzel" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert Carlberg on December 12, 2003
Format: DVD
Frith has always been such a musical chameleon -- fitting into such diverse groups as Henry Cow, Skeleton Crew, Massacre, Looping Home Orchestra and his own Guitar Quartet, to name just a few -- that it's been hard to get a bead on exactly who he is. This film goes a long way toward introducing him to his fans.
It's also likely to make him many new fans, as his quiet genius is evident. Humbert & Penzel's camera work tends to improvise and experiment almost as much as Frith's guitar & violin, with unattached scenes, odd transitions, rough edits and of course the gorgeous, very noir black & white. It's arty without becoming too pretentious, and has some really lovely moments when Fred's onscreen.
I just wish it was in stereo, and about twice as long. You'll want to play the SATB CD right afterwards.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. Margolis on June 24, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I first saw this film in 1995 in a squat in Berlin. My friend and I went back and watched it again the next night. Simply put, this is a beautiful movie about art. More specifically, it is a glowing example of what avant-garde improv music is and can be, and what community based around art and performance can become. Gorgeously filmed. Just stunning and recommended for anyone at all who is interested in art and the world, even if you have never even heard of Fred Frith.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Larry L. Looney on July 7, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Possibly as a result of working with Fred Frith on the 1985 film Wolfsgrub: Portrait of My Mother, Nicholas Humbert and co-director Werner Penzel turned their lens on the renowned avant-garde / improvisational musician as the subject of STEP ACROSS THE BORDER, described as `a ninety minute celluloid improvisation'. As in that earlier film, there is no real `narration' - Frith is shown in multiple settings relaxing, rehearsing, performing before rapt audiences, and in conversation (mostly one-way) with the camera crew. Shot over the course of four years (1987-90) in several countries (Japan, Germany, France, Italy, England, the US and Switzerland), it's an extremely interesting, informative and involving portrait of the musician / composer, his fans and cohorts, and the music itself. Far from being a stuffy intellectual type (although his intelligence cannot be disputed by any means), Fred is shown to be outgoing and engaging, open-minded, with a free spirit - and certainly not reticent when it comes to sharing a laugh with others. One of the brightest moments of the film - at least to me - was the scene, perhaps shot in Fred's home or that of a friend, where he reproduces the themes from several of his many musical compositions using only his mouth and a bit of `body percussion'. It shows that while he's aware of his own talents and creativity, he doesn't take himself so seriously as to be egotistical and unnecessarily elevated.

Several sequences in the film depict motion and travel - Fred tours quite a bit, playing to appreciative audiences all over the world, so this is an understandable and integral part of the picture the filmmakers paint.
Read more ›
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Dunlap on June 16, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
where are the Frith fans? well, here's one!

A new online acquaintance in Japan just posted a link to a Japanese site for Japanese experimental/improvisational artists. He specifically suggested we check out Haco. I really enjoyed what I found, and replied to inquire if my firend had ever heard Fred Frith. Then I went back to Haco's site and discovered she had played piano in this film and was on the soundtrack CD!

Ha!

I hadn't listened for a long time. Saw the film years ago, it was wonderful. Also found out from Haco's page that the film was on DVD.

And here I am, ordering it and suggesting you do the same if you have any idea of who Fred Frith is and like him.
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Format: DVD
I've been looking for this on DVD, and before that on VHS, since I first saw the movie. And I can't believe it's on Amazon and I missed it before now.

This is a superb look into the life of Fred Frith as he travels around playing music with a bunch of other interesting people. Fantastic soundtrack. If you like quirky documentaries you will love this film.
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Step Across the Border - Nicolas Humbert & Werner Penzel
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