Sufjan Stevens to Debut Film and Live Score

Courtesy of Marzuki Stevens via
Courtesy of Marzuki Stevens via

Two years ago, Sufjan Stevens found himself in Oregon at a 100-year-old rodeo tradition known as the Pendleton Round-Up. After experiencing the festival, he gathered Aaron and Alex Craig, two Texas cinematographers to capture slow-motion shots of the rodeo for a short, five-minute documentary. However, after capturing over 60 hours of footage and editing the project for over a year, Sufjan Stevens and company are ready to release and perform their newest film project, Round-Up. The first trailer for the feature film has surfaced here via The Playlist.

Stevens and fellow musicians, Yarn/Wire, will also be performing live music to accompany the film. The seventy-five minute feature film will be performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where Stevens debuted his first feature film and score The BQE, as well as where he performed his Planetarium series last year. BAM refers to this particular piece as “a musical and cinematic portrait of a classic American tradition.”

Round-Up features no dialogue, but is more of a visual display of the Oregon rodeo and a look at American culture. Stevens talked to The Playlist about the film: “[It’s] man immersed in nature, and our film is a manifestation of performance (the round-up) based in agricultural society. If it’s about anything at all, it has to do with man in nature.” After going through almost three days worth of footage, Sufjan Stevens also added, “it’s a way of life that still exists. The film is a much bigger argument about the domestication of plants and animals and man’s relationship to the earth. It’s an existential issue that I think is crucial to have conversation about: man in modern society.” Like The BQE, Round-Up is “shot in a similar style – silent images capturing the events. They’re both non-narrative; purely aesthetic and conceptual images set to music.” Although they are companion pieces and work in a similar fashion, Stevens makes it clear that they are not chronological works and have much different perspectives and ideology behind them.

Although there is no talk about expanding Round-Up to other performance spaces, recorded onto DVDs, or featured online, you can catch the live score screenings from January 20-25th at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater.