The perfect film for an at home picnic!
Hawaii Doc Club Recommends: JAZZ ON A SUMMER’S DAY
By Alison Week
I think the best movies to watch right now are the ones that take you to another time or place. JAZZ ON A SUMMER’S DAY is a wonderful example of a film that will perfectly transport you to 1958 for the Newport Jazz Festival.
It is a classic verité/observational style documentary that keeps you engaged without the use of a narrator or talking-head interviews. Instead, it layers the natural sounds of the environment and festival announcers with pulsating jazz music to drive every frame forward.
The unsung hero of this film is its editor/co-director Aram Avakian, an Armenian-American filmmaker who helped define the American literary movement of 1950’s Paris. In this film, for example, he expertly weaves visual metaphors and imagery of the ocean and sailing with jazz rhythms. At times, the film pleasantly meanders, much like an audience member would as they take in the sights and sounds of the event. The intimacy of it makes you feel as if you’re there — sitting in the crowds, sweating in the summer heat, or cruising in a classic car down a crowded boulevard. Like the audience who was present, you too may find yourself impatiently waiting for jazz heroes Louis Armstrong and singer Mahalia Jackson to take the stage. Don’t fret! Her performance alone is worth the wait.
While the film may seem to simply capture the events of one weekend decades ago, this is neither a music video nor is it your average concert documentary. It captured something special that continues to evoke both joy and nostalgia for bygone eras. When we can return to our favorite local cinemas, like the Hilo Palace Theater, this will be one to watch on the big screen in order to fully appreciate the extensive restoration of this film in 4K by IndieCollect.
Until then, JAZZ ON A SUMMER’S DAY is the perfect movie for a slow Sunday afternoon. I recommend you turn up the volume and kick back with a living room picnic of your own, and enjoy this festival experience from the comforts of your home.
Enjoy the film now from home, and 50% of the rental fee goes directly to the Hilo Palace. Your support helps the theater sustain operations while closed indefinitely due to the pandemic. Stay healthy, stay informed, and see you back at the Palace when it’s safe out there.
Interested in Documentary Film production? Check out Hawaii Doc Club, the virtual documentary filmmaking workshop based in Hawaii.