Director Matt Wolf first heard of Arthur Russell the subject of Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, an impressive documentary that screens tonight and tomorrow as part of the Starz Denver Film Festival back in 2003, more than a decade after the singer-songwriters death. Wolf recalls that a friend referred to Russell as a gay disco auteur who wore farmer-plaid shirts and rode the Staten Island Ferry back and forth listening to mixes of his stuff.
True enough. But while this description suggests that Russell was something of a novelty act, his music proves otherwise. His main instrument was the cello hardly standard equipment for a disco figure and he worked in genres as disparate as artsy folk and avant-garde theater. The characters contradictions and prickly personality presented enormous challenges for Wolf, a 26-year-old for whom Wild Combination marks his feature-film debut. I learned everything about filmmaking through the process of making this project, he admits.
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And he learned it very well.
Wild Combination unspools at 6 p.m. at the Starz FilmCenter in the Tivoli. Individual ticket prices range from $9 to $11, and a variety of festival packages are available. Learn more at 303-820-3456 or www.denverfilm.org and read a Q&A with Matt Wolf at blogs.westword.com/latestword.
Sat., Nov. 22, 6 p.m., 2008