Music legends, young and old, revisited at Athens film festival

Rock’n’roll highlights tend to unwind on stage, but this winter season’s brightest rock’n’roll moment, in the capital, may well come from reels of rolling celluloid. The upcoming «Gimme Shelter Film Festival,» a six-day event offering over 30 films, mostly music-related, from classics to obscure movies, and old to new, should impress. Capturing myths, the legends behind them, and rock’n’roll movements, the festival, which takes its name from «Gimme Shelter,» a 1970 film based on a double-header show by the Rolling Stones and Jefferson Airplane, opens on Friday with a documentary on the fan loyalty behind one of this country’s more regular visiting acts, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. «The Myth,» by Simon Safranek, portrays roving fans tagging along on the act’s tour. Also featured on day one is «D.O.A,» a documentary on the punk scene presented through a focus on the Sex Pistols’ US tour of 1978 by Lech Kowalski, a prolific independent filmmaker, who will attend the festival to collect its first «Maverick Award.» Other Kowalski films will also be screened, including «Born To Lose (The Last Rock’n’Roll Movie),» on the late Johnny Thunders, a peripheral rock’n’roller best known for his work with the New York Dolls, and «On Hitler’s Highway,» in which Kowalski retraces the Third Reich’s path toward eastern Europe. «Kurt and Courtney,» a documentary shot by Nick Broomfield in 1998, to be screened on Day 3, examines the premature loss of grunge icon Kurt Cobain. Also on Day 3, Martin Scorsese’s «Last Waltz» documents the final performance by The Band, with a long list of special guests including Bob Dylan, Van Morrisson, and Muddy Waters. Dylan, who is still making fine records at his advancing age, the most recent back-to-the-roots effort «Love and Theft» being no exception, is depicted as a young evolving artist of the mid-1960s in «Don’t Look Back» by D.A. Pennebaker. For the film’s making, Pennebaker had loosely followed Dylan around during a three-week visit of the UK. Airport and hotel scenes, conversations and concert footage offers a close-up depiction of Dylan around the time the neo-folk singer was preparing to – controversially, at the time – electrify his sound. Barbara Kopple’s «My Generation» observes Woodstock’s plight from a rock festival promoting peace in 1969 to its relaunched commercially driven modern version, and its violence. «Screamin’ Jay Hawkins: I Put a Spell On Me,» the work of this festival’s organizer, Nikos Triantafyllidis, delves into the bizarre world of the late bluesman through interviews and concert footage of the artist’s last show ever, here in Athens, just weeks before he passed away in Paris early in 2000. The Gimme Shelter Film Festival begins this Friday and runs through November 6 at the newly launched Gagarin 205 club (205 Liosion St, close to the Attiki train and metro station). For ticket information, call 010.854.7600 (Astra Productions).