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DESPERATE MAN BLUES

Australia, 2003 (MIFF 2003, Mooks Backbeat)

Director: Edward Gillan

Obsessive record collector Joe Bussard parties like it's 1929! A cultural scavenger, musician and broadcaster, he was a pioneer in the preservation of 78rpm records and the roots music produced in pure and undiluted form in the 20s and 30s. Bussard has rescued priceless shellac artefacts from attics and basements across the US for more than 50 years. He has amassed a vast collection of more than 25,000 rare discs. At 65 Bussard has the enthusiasm and energy of a 16-year-old and will happily spin 75-year-old records all day for anyone who will listen. All the while he gives a running commentary on the music and performer, reliving the day it was made and relating some crazy tale of how he came to rescue the record!

A certifiable eccentric, Bussard is deeply passionate about the blues, hillbilly and folk music he collects. With a soggy cigar perpetually clamped between his teeth, straddling the huge, custom-built turntable that sits at the centre of his basement treasure trove, he cannot help but impart his zealous enthusiasm. A fascinating yarn uncovered by Australian director Edward Gillan with cinematographer Ray Argall (who directed the AFI Award-winning Return Home) in tow.

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