One of the highlights of the Tribeca Film Festival thus far has been the rock doc “Mistaken For Strangers,” which was directed by Tom Berninger. The film opened the Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC this week and was presented by American Express as apart of its music themed programming. Deborah Curtis, Vice President, Entertainment Marketing and Sponsorships at American Express told tapeunit.com on the red carpet:
We’re really excited cause this year we have really a whole sort of thematic around music and film, so there’s events happening throughout the week. We’re thrilled to be part of this event specifically because we’ve had a great relationship with The Nationals the last few years we did it because we did a live streaming event with them a few years ago as part of our American Express UnStaged Experience and so it’s really really exciting to be back together again with them to support them in this way…I love this band because I feel like they’re very authentic, which is probably why a film probably makes sense for them to tell their story I think they have a really interesting story and for that to come out during the festival is even more exciting.
Tom Berninger is the younger brother of “The National” lead singer Matt Berninger. He was 30 years old and living at his parents’ house in Ohio, when his older brother invited him to work as a roadie on the European leg of their tour. Apparently The National is kind of a big deal and on the verge of crossing over from the realms of indie rock to mainstream. Their celebrity fans include Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, who make a brief cameo in the film.
Since Tom Berninger was also a filmmaker, his brother gave him permission to make a documentary in addition to his gopher work on the tour. Berninger used a small handheld Canon Vixia to shoot the film, which chronicles the band’s travels and the inner workings of tour in addition to the relationship between the two Berninger brothers. There are many light moments in the film and darker moments as the younger Berninger grapples with why he is a “failure,” as compared to his “perfect” brother. From tour to finish, the project took three years to create.
“We took different paths and it was amazing to sort of like to reconnect as adults and he is a guy with an amazing amount of patience and amazing amount of vision and faith and he sometimes lost faith in himself, but he had faith in everything else, but he had faith in this movie and my wife had faith in the movie and kind of helped him pull it out of the darkness and I don’t know I just realized I’m just lucky to be surrounded by really brilliant persistent and passionate people,” The National lead singer, Matt, told reporters on the red carpet.
The after-party was held at Highline Ballroom, where guests snacked on Magnum Ice Cream bars. The National performed several songs and they opened their set with “Oh Holy Night,” which Matt dedicated to his brother.
You can check out our interview with Director Tom Berninger below:
Q: What attracted you to the project?
TB: Not every little brother has an older brother who is a rock star and I felt like I just had to take the opportunity. It had been given to me. I just had to go along on tour and make something, I didn’t know what it was going to be.
Q: How did the film come together?
TB: Early on in the tour I was making funny small little movies like little vignettes – little kind of goofball things with the band and they were funny for like two minutes and Carin [Matt’s Wife] you were kind of like “They’re good, they’re really funny, but we’re making a movie and you gotta have a little bit more” and in L.A. it kind of took her to talk about certain scenes where I’m a little more emotional and it kind of took her to direct these things and she forced me to watch these harder scenes and we eventually had a movie there.
Q: What was the greatest challenge of making the film?
TB: Technically, I shot it all on one camera and it was really hard to cut a lot of jump cuts. The other challenge was I’m in the movie and it was really difficult to face and stuff I didn’t want to put in the movie, I had to put it in there and so that was really a challenge and also finish the things and make something good obviously is a challenge…movies are full of subtlety and to get the tone right and everything right it was really difficult.
There will be two more screenings of the film this week:
FRI4/268:30 PMAMC Loews Village 7 – 3RUSHSAT4/279:30 PMSVA Theater 1 SilasRUSH
And there will be a free “Music + Film” panel featuring Todd Haynes, Q-Tip and The National’s Matt Berninger on Tuesday as apart of the Tribeca Talks Industry.