WVKR DJs and Vassar students filled a Rockefeller Hall lecture room last night for the station-sponsored screening of Wild Combination. Matt Wolf, the film’s director, was present to field our many questions and provide a glimpse into his filmmaking process.
Wild Combination is an intriguing portrait of the avant-garde composer, singer-songwriter, cellist, and disco producer Arthur Russell. The film chronicles Russell’s life, following him through his geographical shifts and accompanying transformations. Enigmatic with a powerful beauty, Russell’s music reflected his personality with plain honesty. For anyone interested in independent music, its relationship with pop, or the active and varied art communities of 1970s and 1980s Manhattan, Wild Combination is a must-see. And it comes at just the right time, as Russell’s prolific body of work has steadily gained notoriety in recent years. The film is a rare look into the life of a musician whose work remains hauntingly contemporary, over fifteen years after his untimely death. Combining archival footage and moving interviews, the documentary allows Russell’s parents, boyfriend, and close friends such as Allen Ginsberg and Phillip Glass to tell Arthur’s story and bring to life a career that only until recently has been considerably understated. Debuting at the Berlin Film Festival in 2008, and travelling internationally since then, the film itself is visually absorbing and aesthetically varied – a fitting tribute to the legacy of an artist who bridged the gaps between relatively disparate musical styles as well as social circles.
For reviews, screening information, and links to purchase the DVD, visit the Wild Combination website.