Filmmaker Michael Lippert back with new documentary

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michael-lippert-reeves

40-minute
doc about
classic North Carolina
theater had its
premiere on
April 6

Longtime Cutters editor and Chicago filmmaker Michael Lippert has debuted a new documentary, Reeves: a Home for Music, at RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Lippert, who made festival noise three years ago with Miriam is Going to Mars, focuses his new film follows people of a former tobacco and textile town in North Carolina as they transform an abandoned 1940s movie theater into a new music venue.

Against great odds, musicians, artists, and community leaders take it upon themselves to usher their sleepy town into a brave new era that celebrates their rich Appalachian folk and music scene in whole new way. Watch the trailer below:

 
REEVES THEATER: THE NEW LIFE

Reeves Theater: The New Life from Reeves Theater on Vimeo.

 

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Lippert in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
According to Lippert, he was inspired to make the film when his wife’s family purchased the long vacant building a few years ago. “It’s the centerpiece of a bygone era; it used to be the main attraction but sat for so long just falling apart, and the businesses surrounding it faded with it.”

 
He adds, “I’m very interested in downtown revitalizations and architectural restoration, so naturally the potential in this place drew me to document the process. And as someone who loves and plays music, its transformation into a live venue made it all the more appealing.”

Drawing on his own musical past, his longtime experience cutting documentary style films, and his connection to the South, Lippert collaborated with North Carolina locals and Chicagoans alike to create the 40-minute piece.

Cinematographer Simeon Pratt, known for beautiful aerials and gorgeous lifestyle visuals, shot the film with Lippert over two phases: Construction and Grand Opening performances, all in between their regular professional commitments. Longtime actor and musician Kate Carson-Groner co-produced, and Winston-Salem locals jumped on the crew for sound and additional camera coverage.

With help from Dictionary Films, production wrapped at the end of 2017. It was edited by Emily Tolan and Lippert at Cutters, mixed by Mike Regan at Another Country, with an original score from Devin Delaney at Noisefloor, and colored by Lindsay Mazur at the Mill.

As such, the film became a Chicago effort as much as a North Carolina one. “Just like the Reeves, it takes a community of people who believe in something to make it happen,” says Lippert, who first screened Reeves: a Home for Music at the film’s namesake in January, where it was received emotionally by many who recalled the the place in its former glory days.

Reeves Theater itself is now open and has been hosting acts from all over the country and Southeast since 2017. They’ve hosted acts like Willy Watson, Todd Snyder, and welcomed the Grammy-Nominated Wood Brothers on April 11th.

Next, Lippert is hoping the film can find its own home on UNC-TV or a similar PBS outlet. “We’re shopping around. We know there is an audience, particularly for lovers of architecture and folk music.”

Reeves: a Home for Music was made with local grassroots support, and as such, the filmmakers are still seeking help as they submit to festivals and look for distribution. If you would like to contribute, please click here.

Source: Reeves Theater

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