Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields
Dec 10 - Dec 16, 2010
(Kerthy Fix and Gail O’Hara, USA, 2010, HD, 82 min)
Sponsored by Easy Street Records
"Stephin is an everyday sort of genius. Like, he just shows up every day,” says director Kerthy Fix of the Magnetic Fields front man, Stephin Merritt.
Strange Powers draws on co-director and fan Gail O’Hara’s ten years of filming the band, creating an intimate portrait of Merritt, the man and the songwriter. The film, cleanly and forcefully shot by Paul Kloss is expertly recorded and mixed to showcase the remarkable range of acoustic instruments used by the band. It combines concert sequences of their polished, folk-inflected music with magically casual scenes of the band on tour and in daily life. Yet Strange Powers is more about the person than the performance, and the film thoughtfully explores the controversy over Merritt’s comments about hip-hop in 2006, the rare twenty-year collaboration between him and Claudia Gonson and, finally, Merritt’s 2008 move to Los Angeles to write for Hollywood.
Strange Powers won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature at the Los Angeles Outfest, and is an invaluable examination of this widely acclaimed songwriter that you won’t want to miss.
Listen to an interview with Stephin Merritt and KEXP
"The thing that makes you really want to watch a Magnetic Fields documentary—aside from the fact that it’s about a brilliant band (start with 69 Love Songs if this is news to you)—is that the genius behind Magnetic Fields, Stephin Merritt, is so prickly, capricious, weary, and mean in interviews that no journalist has ever gotten an accurate picture of him." —The Stranger
"Fans of the Magnetic Fields will relish every moment of it, and many who have as yet undiscovered Merritt’s questionable talents will be won over to his narcissistic tunnel-vision... Of interest to Seattle audience is a segment filmed at EMP’s 2006 pop music conference in which Merritt found himself accused of racism." —Seattle Post Globe
“The sneaky, cockeyed tunesmithing of Stephin Merritt, the mind behind cult favorite the Magnetic Fields, finally receives a filmic examination in the well-crafted Strange Powers…Fans will drool at the generous access to the band." — Robert Koehler, Variety
Watch the trailer: