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West Germany, 1990 (MIFF 1990, Documentaries)

Director: Uli M. Schüppel

Uli Schüppel was still a student at the Berlin Film Academy (DFFB) when he conceived this project - the documentation of a US tour by internationally recognised Australian cult figure, Nick Cave and his band of underground legends, The Bad Seeds. Schüppel's plan was to record the routines behind the glamour - the 23 hours of the day when the band is not playing - that make up the daily schedule of a touring performer. Schüppel goes out of his way to avoid making a "concert film", while allowing just enough snippets of the band's live performances to filter through, so as to give even the uninformed viewer a sense of The Bad Seed's work.

Using just a two-person crew (himself on camera and a sound recordist), the director has been able to infiltrate every imaginable moment of the band's days (and nights) without his presence obstructing the action. The "you-are-there" atmosphere allows the viewer to penetrate back-stage aprés-gig drinks, tour buses, TV and press interviews and arguments with venue owners with an intimacy rarely seen in conventional TV reporting, always laughably out-of-touch in fictional versions. Soon the recurring rounds of photoshoots, interviews, backstage parties and hotel rooms blur into one endless road; one show the same as the other; each hotel the same as the last; each batch of backstage hangers-on and nervous fans the same as the last.

The result of this approach is the gradual demystification of hte celebrity lifestyle that other media (and stars) usually perpetrate. Yet just as these details accumulate and are transformed into a mundane daily ritual for the performers, so too does the process become ever more fascinating for the viewer. The Road. . . is a voyeur's delight, packed with incidental detail and absurd fleeting moments to treasure, as these glum minstrels head on down the road, to god knows where.
- (TB)

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