Funeral Music

Categories: Film
Twin Cities cinephiles should be well acquainted with the work of Heddy Honigmann. The documentary filmmaker's work has often been showcased at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival and five years ago the Walker Art Center put together a retrospective of her films. Peter S. Scholtes wrote a swell appreciation of the Peruvian-born, Dutch-based director here.

Her latest film, Forever, is currently screening at Oak Street Cinema. The subject is Paris's Pere-Lachaise cemetery, the eternal home of such luminaries as Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde, Frederic Chopin and (perhaps most notoriously) Jim Morrison. Honigmann's approach seems to consist of simply hanging out by the tombstones and seeing who drops by. But what she uncovers is often remarkably moving.

A widower recounts atrocities witnessed during Franco's rule of Spain to explain her lack of faith in God. An Iranian ex-pat summarizes a story by Persian writer Sadegh Hedayat to explain why he left his native country. An embalmer reverently discusses the portraits of Modigliani and how they influence his own line of work. Honigmann elicits these tales from her subjects with gently probing questions.

The various threads are stitched together with the story of a Japanese classical pianist whose father died young. They shared a love of Chopin and she has moved to Paris to study the composer's work. As the young pianist deftly performs one of Chopin's pieces, Honigmann focuses tightly on her intense face to pungent affect.

The film is showing for just three more nights at Oak Street.

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