The Big Ears Documentary Project
Rock Fish Stew to Document Big Ears for Third Consecutive Year
A New Website for the Project is Live
Watch the Big Ears Film Trailer HERE
Installation of work-in-progress in Knoxville this week at Zach Searcy Projects
The Durham, N.C.-based Rock Fish Stew (www.rockfishstew.org) will immerse a team of documentarians in downtown Knoxville to document the Big Ears festival for a third consecutive year, adding to a collection of more than 200 hours of video footage, audio, and several thousand photographs generated at the festival in 2014 and 2015. A new website dedicated to the project, featuring a 6-minute trailer, was launched this month.
There will be an installation of Rock Fish Stew’s Big Ears work-in-progress at Zach Searcy Projects in Knoxville this week.
In 2015 Rock Fish Stew began experimenting with their documentary materials in two multi-media presentations called Big, Bent Ears (www.bigbentears.org), the first an online collaboration with the literary magazine, The Paris Review, and the second an installation at the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh, N.C. In Big, Bent Ears, Rock Fish Stew mashed up the music of Big Ears with the legendary New Yorker magazine writer, Joseph Mitchell, whose first book was called My Ears are Bent (1938), the connective thread being careful listening – to human voices in the case of Mitchell.
Rock Fish Stew’s principles are writer Sam Stephenson and filmmaker Ivan Weiss.
Stephenson is most known for his 12-year endeavor, The Jazz Loft Project, which produced a book (Alfred A. Knopf), a public radio series (WNYC), a traveling exhibition (NYPL and others), and a film, and won a 2010 ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award. Stephenson’s writing has been published widely, including in The Paris Review and The New York Times. For fifteen years he was based at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies before leaving in 2013 to form Rock Fish Stew. He won a 2015 Deems Taylor / Virgil Thomson Award for his piece for The Paris Review about John Coltrane’s first biographer. Stephenson’s fourth book, Gene Smith’s Sink, will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2017.
Weiss joined Stephenson at Rock Fish Stew in 2013 on the project Bull City Summer: A Season at the Ballpark. Weiss’s film, “Leaving Traces,” documented the documentarians of Bull City Summer, including renowned photographers Kate Joyce, Alex Harris, Frank Hunter, Leah Sobsey, Alec Soth, Hank Willis Thomas, and Hiroshi Watanabe.
Rock Fish Stew’s 2016 team will include acclaimed filmmaker, Jem Cohen, whose 1999 film, Instrument, about the band, Fugazi, is considered by many musicians to be one of the best music documentaries ever made.
Longtime Rock Fish Stew collaborator, the Santa Fe-based photographer Kate Joyce, will return to the Big Ears documentary team, along with New York filmmakers Mika Chance and Ligaiya Romero, each for their third years, respectively. New York musician and audio documentarian Levon Henry returns for his second year.
Outcomes of the Big Ears Documentary Project under discussion include a feature film, a series, a book, and a traveling installation.