This month, Le Cinéma Club presents the platform’s third annual Summer Music Festival, featuring films that revel in the electric power of live music.
While on tour in Japan, the synth-pop duo Eurythmics were followed around by then-unknown, now renown Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai. The on-the-fly documentary, awash in the neon lights of Tokyo’s bustling nightlife and the performers’ dazzling shows, captures vocalist Annie Lennox and guitarist Dave Stewart at the height of their stardom while immersed in a new project meant to combine the sounds of Japan’s new technologies with the nation’s ancient musical traditions.
Brand New Day moves in grooves, alternating between dynamic concert footage and laid-back strolls with the musicians as they explore Japan in their downtime. With Lennox wrapped in a cheetah print coat for most of the film’s runtime and Stewart sporting a black leather uniform that suits his bleach-blonde mullet, the duo’s appearance is often in sharp contrast with their surroundings. “I might as well be from outer space,” says Lennox perched atop a gravestone midway through the film. The Eurythmics’ outré look and sound was always their appeal, yet it is the supreme curiosity and attentiveness with which they approach Japan’s music scene — old and new — despite their alien feel that stands out from Gitai’s documentary. Eventually, it becomes clear that they were only able to challenge musical convention because of their deep understanding of its traditions.
“Music is always a major source of inspiration… it engages with the cinematic image so that we, the spectators can become interpreters and not just consumers.” AMOS GITAI
Accompanied by Krautrock super-producer Conny Plank, Lennox and Stewart meet up with the late great Ryuichi Sakamoto and master bamboo flute player Watazumido Doso Rushi, to gather inspiration for their soon-to-be-released album Savage, which Stewart would go on to describe as a “turn sharp left” from their existing discography. Together with cinematographer Nurith Aviv, Gitai finds the two ‘80s pop stars at their most lovestruck with music, toying around with instruments everywhere they go, from bamboo forests to evening gondola rides.
Amos Gitai was born in Haifa, Israel in 1950. After studying architecture, his studies were suspended by the Yom Kippur War, during which he began using a Super-8 while on helicopter missions. Following the war and a brief period of documentary filmmaking, Gitai made his feature debut with Esther, an epic tableau vivant inspired by the Old Testament. In the years to come, he continued directing experimental features of a political bent that reimagined Jewish myths to comment on war, exile, and utopias. His work across fiction and documentary filmmaking has earned him plaudits in multiple film festivals across the globe. These include four Palme D’Or nominations between 1999 and 2005, as well as seven Golden Lion nominations at the Venice Film Festival, including one for his most recent feature Laila in Haifa (2020), a ruminative film about an art gallery that doubles as a nightclub, and acts as a haven for marginalized communities in the Israeli city.
Text written by Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer. Special thanks to Amos Gitai and Laurent Tricot, and also to Michael Chaiken for recommending this film.
- Credits for
- BRAND NEW DAY
- produced by
- AMOS GITAI
- executive produced by
- JOHN STEWART
- cinematography by
- NURITH AVIV
- DANIEL OLLIVER
- edited by
- ANNA RUIZ