Canadian-born musician James Carson, a gifted child piano prodigy and award-winning filmmaker, will premiere his visually rich and immersive musical documentary Cabin Music at Toronto’s Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival (PIF) this week.
Carson is a virtuoso piano player. He decides to leave the conservatory to backpack from Spain to Japan. The off-grid cabin in the Canadian wilderness which Carson designs and builds by hand upon his return becomes his sacred space so to speak. It is here, in isolation, where new music comes to life.
As such, the film documents the creation of Carson’s debut album, The Story of Birds. We see how Carson’s classical influences fuse with traditions and cultures of the East.
The film is at once a documentation of Carson’s process but also a meditation on creativity and existence. With the blend of natural and urban landscapes interspersed with musical moments, it is also an invitation to pause and be attentive to the world around us. The beautiful landscapes, musical interludes, performances and silent moments come together so nicely that we are forced to sit and simply be in the present moment – with this film.
Carson describes Cabin Music as “not only a film, a concert, or an album. It’s the space between all these manifestations. Each gives a different point of access to the same fundamental source. The concerts provide the most intimate connection – a one-to-one communion that cannot be transmitted across any media. The recordings are for repeat listening, [how ever] a person chooses to experience them. The film, meanwhile, is designed to do what only film can do: to viscerally bring audiences through time and place in a compressed and expanded way into the cabin and its origins. Only cinema has the scale and capacity to cross continents and ages in the blink of an eye; only cinema can immerse audiences in the roots from which the cabin is born.”
In Cabin Music, Carson communicates through his piano playing, the clay-walled cabin he builds, the beautiful cinematography he captures, and his engaging editorial sense. It truly engages our senses and puts us in a state of awareness which, in our fast-paced world, is very much needed. A truly engaging sensory experience.
Cabin Music screens at PIF on October 20th at 7pm ET at the Paradise Theatre. For more information and tickets, please go to planetinfocus.org.