• Shmuel Hoffman

Mountain & Maiden

Remember when I filmed in India a while ago with Anton von Heiseler? It's time for the premiere of what we filmed. We brought in Sarah Nemtsov, an award-winning musician and one of Europe's most famous contemporary composers. She has written music to accompany the film. The crazy thing is that the music will be performed live at Europe's biggest art and music festival. The world premiere is in a few weeks, on January 18th, in Berlin, at one of Europes biggest and most important art festivals The Ultraschall Festival in Berlin.

In 2018, Anton came to the USA in order to work with us on some commercial and documentary films. He showed me his first film from India “Black Mountain” and I was ecstatic. After we tossed around a few ideas, he asked me if I wanted to get involved and co-produce the second part of this trilogy. 

So, we traveled in December 2018 to New Delhi, and we wanted to visit Aasma, the protagonist of “Black Mountain”, the first film. But Aasma was long gone since she married and moved to the countryside. Her little sister Aspiah, 10,  and her younger brother were still left home with their parents in a tiny, one-room shanty at the foot of the black mountain. 

We filmed a few scenes in that shack, and we knew we had the next story.

A ten-year-old girl living in really difficult circumstances, deprived of going to school. She has to work in the landfill collecting trash in order to support her family.  

Despite her circumstances, she seems to be a curious, upbeat and full-of-life child.

The “Black Mountain,” Anton’s first film on the subject, was about the suffering, the people, and  the rape of the environment. “Mountain & Maiden” is about a girl living WITH the mountain. That mountain that gives life and sustenance and brings death at the same time.

Sound and music are an integral part of every film. But with “Mountain & Maiden,” we wanted to find a different path other than just illustrating pictures with sound.

I always had in the back of my mind Sarah’s amazing musical work, and always wanted to collaborate with her. So, I approached her and asked if she would be interested in writing music for this film.

And she came up with a stunning idea:

Sarah had already agreed on writing a composition for the Ultraschall Berlin festival,  and we decided that our film and her composition would become ONE piece. A musical composition WITH a film.

We went and set out to create not just a film, but a film AND composition at the same time that neither can live without. And yet each of them are separate incarnations that tell the same story.

We wanted this to be a piece with nowness, that can be only played as a life performance. Like in the silent era when films were musically illustrated live. And the idea was born to create a musical piece for keyboard and piano solo and film. 

If you *happen* to be in Berlin then, we'd love to see you there. For tickets, visit https://ultraschallberlin.de