Celebrated music doc by JL Aronson to be released in select U.S. theaters this winter following successful festival run (top awards received at the Chicago Underground Film Festival and Sidewalk Moving Picture Fest)
Limited Theatrical Release:
New York, NY Dec 15-21 Cinema Village
Chicago, IL Dec 10, 14 Siskel Center
Austin, TX Dec 11, 20, 28, Jan 2 Alamo Downtown
Seattle, WA Dec 15-21 NW Film Forum
Bloomington, IN 1st 2 Weeks in Dec The Cinemat
San Francisco, CA Jan 25-27 Red Vic
Portland, OR 3rd week of Jan NW Film Center
Los Angeles, CA Jan 19-25 Laemmle’s GRANDE 4-Plex in Downtown LA
Boston, MA Feb. 2-3 Coolidge Corner Theatre
Daniel Smith leads his family to indie-rock stardom as the Danielson Famile, eventually facing the struggle to become a viable solo artist. Along the way he mentors Sufjan Stevens, an unknown singer-songwriter, whose subsequent success contrasts sharply with Danielson’s uneasy reception in the music world just a few years prior.
Length: 105 minutes
Production and post-production: March 2002 – May 2006
Shooting format: miniDV plus 16mm, super8, animation, & DVcam
Producer, Director, Camera, Editor: JL Aronson
Cameos: Rick Moody, Steve Albini, Daniel Johnston, David Garland, Alan Sparhawk
Danielson: a Family Movie is a documentary about unbridled creativity vs. accessibility, Christian faith vs. popular culture, underground music vs. survival, and family vs. individuality. The film follows Daniel Smith, an eccentric musician and visual artist, as he leads his four siblings and best friend to indie-rock stardom. Beginning in 1994 when the youngest band member was 10 years old, the Danielson Famile performs in white, vintage nurse costumes to symbolize the healing power of the Good News, a recurring subject matter. Though tepidly received by the Christian music world, the South Jersey farmland-bred clan is widely embraced by the mainstream independent music community, written about in Rolling Stone, Spin, the New York Times and elsewhere as an outsider curiosity backed up by innovative, experimental music.
But as with other family acts, members of the band begin to seek out their own paths as they go through college and Daniel eventually faces the struggle to become viable as a solo act. The film also follows Daniel’s friendship with Sufjan Stevens who first joins the band in 2001 as a fill-in for siblings too busy to go on tour. Over the course of the movie, we see Sufjan come into his own as a songwriter and performer through his collaborations with Daniel and through his own 50 States project. What makes some music appealing to a wide audience while other forms of the same music attract a more underground cult following? Does dressing up as a tree highlight the message or distract audience members from fully absorbing the music?
And why would non-believers be interested in artists with their faith
on their sleeves? These are just some of the issues raised in this
new, exciting film.
With production starting in 2002, at a high water mark for the band, all the drama is played out before the camera making Danielson: a Family Movie both engaging and entertaining. Collage, direct cinema, animation and memorable performances all contribute to this thoughtful and thought-provoking spectacle.
The film was made with no capital investment from the Danielson Famile, its record label or any other third party.
SXSW, San Francisco Independent Film Fest, New York Underground Film Fest, Philadelphia Film Fest, Nashville Film Fest, Silverdocs AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival, Chicago Underground Film Fest WINNER- Audience Award), Sound Unseen music + film fest, National Film Theatre (London, England), NXNE, Allison Anders’ Don’t Knock the Rock (Los Angeles), Sidewalk Moving Picture Fest (Birmingham, AL) WINNER – Special Jury Award, Leeds International Film Fest, Frankfurt International Film Fest, Oslo International Film Festival.