New film Liquid Land documents New Orleans’ changing musical landscape

The world premiere of Michelle Ettlin‘s debut documentary Liquid Land screened Tuesday, October 16 at the Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center, as part of the New Orleans Film Society’s 2012 Film Festival. The hour-long film follows Swiss musician Simon Berz and Dutch artist Kaspar Koenig as they approach New Orleans with a fresh project in mind: to capture the heart of the city’s musical culture and understand what brings artists to town despite the constant presence of hurricanes and other disasters.

A still from Liquid Land.

Their task is accomplished by pillaging through locals’ trash and using the treasures they find to create wholly new musical instruments by which they express the sounds of the Crescent City. It’s all about improvisation, and living in the moment—a mantra shared among the local artists whom Berz and Koenig invite to join them in their project: among them, Aurora Nealand, Bhob Rainey, Helen Gillet, Dave Easely, Justin Peake, Jeff Albert, Moose Jackson and James Singleton.

This concept is a reflection of the land itself, showcasing how life in New Orleans is “structured” around the shifting of the tides. Buildings are raised and torn down. They’re not the city’s support system; they don’t define what makes New Orleans unique. The people are the city’s support system, its culture. It’s the people who thrive on maintaining this culture that create the community and tell the city’s stories through their improvised concerts.

Liquid Land contains interviews with musicians from all backgrounds who, in the wake of disasters like Katrina, band together for the sake of music. They capture the energy of the city and share it with others through their performances.

For those who missed out on the NOFF presentation, another local screening is set for 7:30 p.m. October 27 at the Mudlark Public Theatre and at 7:30 p.m. November 6 at the Blue Nile upstairs before it screens in Texas, Kansas City, and L.A. throughout November. Both the October 27 and November 6 screenings — the latter, part of the Open Ears Music Series — will feature live performances from many of the guests who appear in the film.

Visit Liquid Land‘s upcoming shows page for more information.

— Beck “zaelyna” Brexlyn


  • Just a note on times: The Nov 6 Blue Nile show is film at 10 PM and musical performance after (probably 11:30 or so). Thanks.