We saw a wonderful documentary today at the SXSW film conference–the world premier of “Silver Jew,” an intimate portrait of reclusive poet/musician David Berman. Berman is the driving force behind Nashville-based indie band Silver Jews. Strangely, Silver Jews has never toured. So when they decided to embark on a world tour last summer, director Michael Tully and producer Matthew Robison tagged along for a week during the shows in Israel. The result is the film, “Silver Jew.”
Tully was interviewed last month by
Matthew lives in Nashville and is friendly with David. Before embarking on his band’s first ever world tour, David mentioned to Matthew that he wanted the Israeli portion of the trip documented, as he had recently embraced Judaism and felt it would be a special occasion. Matthew saw the opportunity and called me up to see if I wanted to fly over there with him and shoot the film. At the time, I was living with my parents in Maryland and still trying to pay off “Cocaine Angel,” so I turned him down. But a few close friends offered to fund the trip because they sensed it would be a good move for me to make. While I didn’t take them up on their monetary offer, I did change my mind and said yes. The trip itself was magical.
Berman is a funny, thoughtful man. Some of the best footage in the film is his interaction with fans. He realizes, seemingly for the first time, that he has the power to make people happy via his music, which in turn makes him happy.