Ivory Tower is a musical film by Chilly Gonzales (Gonzo to his friends) and his rapper in the electro-rap group Puppetmastaz, Adam Traynor. A really unexpected discovery at Locarno in 2010, it is difficult to tell if this strange and wonderful piece is a visual accompaniment to an album or an album that’s been adapted for film. Ivory Tower is a film (barely an hour long), but it is also a show, a performance, as evidenced by the way it has been distributed over the last year, screening not in cinemas but in concert venues and clubs (recently that of David Lynch’s Silencio in Paris).
After this unusual form of world tour, Ivory Tower will finally be viewable by all, available via Gonzales’ website, as a VOD and on DVD from December 7 (chillygonzales.com)
A musician of multiple talents, Canadian Gonzales has several strings to his bow: as well as co-scripting and co-directing, he features as an actor in this story of romantic and professional rivalry between two brothers, both chess champions. One of them is aiming to maximise commercial and PR opportunities, the other invents agaming philosophy that tends to minimise the spirit of competitionand the importance of winning in favour of the beauty of the actual chess move, as if it were music. And is in fact called “jazz chess”. This bizarre family story, a kind of cross between Rocky and the films of Wes Anderson, is a wonderful surprise from the indie film scene, bringing together both on and off screen top talent from the electro pop field, Leslie Feist, Peaches, Gonzales and Céline Sciamma (Tomboy) on the screenplay. Funny, moving, crazy, this short film was b screened as a world première at the Festival del film Locarno 2010, in the Filmmakers of Today section, and received both a special jury mention and an enthusiastic audience response (the album Ivory Tower was released a fortnight later An ideal example of a mutant work, somewhere between music, fiction, video, combining several artistic disciplines with not a smidgen of pretention, but a great deal of humour and sensitivity, Ivory Tower is both energising and an exemplary illustration of what we mean by “guerrilla cinema”, one that is reinventing modes of production, filmmaking practice and distribution.