Ginger Baker Documentary Wins Top Prize at SXSW
"Beware of Mr. Baker," Jay Bulger's documentary on drummer Ginger Baker, won the Documentary Grand Jury prize Tuesday night (Mar. 13) at the South by Southwest film awards, but where it might screen next is under wraps.
"We have been accepted to a bunch of festivals, but they have told us not to tell anyone," Fisher Stevens, one of three producers on the film, said on Sunday, the day after Saturday's world premiere screening.
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The film will screen one last time in in Austin, on March 16 at the Paramount. "We hope there will be a lot of musicians in the audience," Stevens says, figuring that's a key audience for providing word of mouth marketing.
"We would love to figure it out, love to get a theatrical release and maybe even do a tour," Stevens adds. "Take the movie on tour with CDs and Ginger-and-Jay T shirts."
Producer Andrew Karsch says the key to building an audience is through "connecting with local classic rock stations, mobilize their demographic and get people of his generation out to see it."
"Beware of Mr. Baker" was shot mostly at Baker's horse ranch in South Africa, which he purchased after Cream reunion gigs with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce. The story chronicles Baker's struggle with drugs, his work as a jazz musician and acceptance by the jazz drummers he idolized, and the dramatic career moves he made -- moving to Nigeria after the break-up of Blind Faith to spend six years working with Fela Kuti, the creation of jazz-rock ensemble Air Force, his love of horses and polo and his return to performing as a jazz drummer.
John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, opens the film with a dramatic rant on a split screen. Lydon and Baker worked together on Public Image Ltd.'s "Album."
"He wouldn't do the interview until he was finished drinking," director Bulger relates. "We had 72 Coronas and he wanted to drink them all. I was pretty shitfaced when we shot it. ... It was a one take thing. He is an anarchist and very underrated thinker."
Fora member of an iconic rock band of the '60s it does seem a little strange to open the film that way and Stevens admits he was skeptical when Bulger said that was going to be the opening. "(Rotten) could be in the movies -- he's that good."
Only narrative and documentary feature awards were announced Tuesday. The rest of the awards will be handed out March 17.