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Review: The white house Overture, to premiere at Montreal World Film Festival

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Review: The white house Overture, to premiere at Montreal World Film Festival

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Timucua white house is a unique place in Orlando for the performance of artists usually outside of the conventional and the mainstream. The concerts – staged in the opulent living room of the Glazer family’s downtown Orlando home – take place almost every Sunday and are almost always free of charge.

Not your typical venue, audience members can usually meet and chat with musicians between sets or after the show, mingle and share wine and finger food – the ‘price’ of admission for most events.

The singularity of this performance space and the special musical background of the Glazer family were caught on camera over nine days by filmmaker Steve Radley. His new documentary short film The white house Overture succeeds in capturing the atmosphere of the home and the events.

The man behind it all is Benoit Glazer, from Cirque su Soleil, who designed the house with attention to acoustics and enough room to accommodate the ever-growing audience. The film takes us back to the original Timucua house, where the series of concerts first started. Innate musicians, the three Glazer children would join their parents for family performances on the weekends. The audience started growing from neighbors to friends, and to friends of friends. To make room for everybody, Benoit had a wall torn down. After further redesigns and adjustments, “there were no more walls to tear down,” he says. And that takes us to the 2007 construction of the current white house.

The best interviews are those of the Glazer (now adult) children; they open up and show the way in which music has been a bond to their family like no other. Their tradition was to always open the performance of the guest artist in his or her style, a feat not easy to accomplish, as the guest acts range from free jazz to experimental rock to electronic aleatory music.

I’ve been given the privilege to watch the film before its public release – it is slated to premiere at the Montreal World Film Festival later this year. A contemporary string quartet by local composer and professor Charles Griffin bookends the film, roughly 35 minutes long. “I saw that most festival short docs are under 40 minutes, so I targeted that length,” says Radley, who produced, directed and edited the film. With no budget, he donated his own time and expertise.

For the one-man production, Radley used a DSLR camera and a GoPro, which resulted in crisp HD digital film images and some cool fish-eyed shots of the performance space and audience, such as the one seen above.

Although the film works as a remarkable souvenir for those of us who have been there and experienced the place firsthand, it might be less captivating to objective outside viewers. The film could have used further development to explore sub-layers beneath the scenes. Though thoroughly entertaining, the overall pace seems rushed, with some of the editing in the beginning a bit jumbled, when Benoit introduces the first act.

The guest musician interviews are less engaging than those of the family; short snippets from each one try to sum up the performer’s experience but the editing doesn’t allow for real insight, or unique perception of their experience to develop. Perhaps an additional layer could have been explored here, as I’m sure not everything is rosy-colored when you’re responsible for coordinating events like these, with contingencies like budgeting difficulties, overnight accommodations, delayed flights and all kinds of logistic nightmares. The addition of an angle of that nature, or what goes on behind the scenes from any of a multitude of different perspectives, might have made the film more engaging.

The white house Overture wraps up nicely with a look into what’s in store for the future; Benoit’s plans to host excellent performances don’t end there in his house, or on the ground…

The Montreal World Film Festival provides exciting leverage for the documentary and I hope it brings more attention both to this great performance space and to the local digital film talent behind the camera, which has brought it to life.

To watch the trailer of The white house Overture, click here.

To visit and ‘like’ the Facebook fan page of The white house Overture, click here.

To visit the website of the Timucua Arts Foundation and learn about upcoming performances, click here.

To read my latest review of a performance at Timucua, click here.

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