In March 2022, musician and artist Devonté Hynes (Blood Orange) was invited to perform selected pieces by the late American composer Julius Eastman alongside pianist Adam Tendler and percussionist Jonathan Hepfer at Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection, in Paris. Filmmaker Anaïs Ngbanzo documented the rehearsals and edited them alongside interviews of Eastman in his heyday, producing the first documentary portrait about the unsung member of New York’s musical avant-garde.
Eastman made his debut as a pianist at NYC’s Town Hall in 1966 and later became involved with the radical group of Downtown musicians, such as Meredith Monk and Arthur Russell, who challenged classical music conventions throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s. Hynes’s reflections on Eastman throughout A Different Score pinpoint the unique quality of his pieces, in which he layered his compositions’ sections to give a sense of organic musical growth.
“When making this film-documentary, nothing was planned, staged or written, it was spontaneous. I liked the idea of capturing something in the making.” ANAÏS NGBANZO
Like Eastman’s layered compositions, Ngbanzo’s documentary incorporates different elements in order to provide a full-bodied account of its subject.
Anaïs Ngbanzo is a Paris-based artist whose work extends into various fields. In 2020, she founded the publishing house Éditions 1989 to preserve, nurture, and present the work of avant-garde artists. This winter, Ngbanzo is set to publish a book about the late African-American writer and actress Dorothy Dean. Her debut film A Different Score combines her interest in experimental music and film, and has been shown at Centre Pompidou, Metrograph Theater, Rio Cinema and the American Cinematheque. She is currently writing her first feature film, which is set to take place in New York.
Text written by Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer.