Duration: 105 minutes
The world premiere of My Name’s Ben and i play piano screened as part of the Adelaide Film Festival Closing Night Gala. The documentary-cum- live recording performance of Ben Folds and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at the Thebarton Theatre in Adelaide, South Australia.
In a socially distanced world, the audience enters the auditorium and files to allocated seating to enable such a performance to happen.
Direct Scott Hicks (Shine, Hearts in Atlantis, The Lucky One) beautifully captures the live performance and dynamics between Ben Folds, the ASO, and the audience. A third-party, fly-on-the-wall perspective is created as the film moves between live performance, broad-scale visions of the performance, details, and nuisances including audience reactions, and short interviews with ASO conductor Benjamin Northey and Ben Folds himself. Footage of Ben in a home studio explaining the beginnings of some of his songs gives an insight into his creative process.
The film starts with the delicate installation and set up of a full-scale grand piano – just for the performance — just one example of the behind-the-scenes footage incorporated into the movie.
The live performance and visual components are well balanced and synced, no mean feat, particularly for an audience of likely musicians. My Name’s Ben and i play piano emphasises the emotion of such a licence performance and the music through clever production. The film depicts a level of magnification not usually accessible and hidden by the particularly large scale of the orchestra in a live performance. The lift of a pencil, the reaction of an audience member, or the silent communication between the conductor, orchestra members, and each other.
The performance style and incredible musical skill of Ben Folds are playfully captured as demonstrated by the composition of an improvised piece firstly with the full orchestra and again with the audience themselves. Songs are performed in full including ‘Zac and Sarah’, the Luckiest, and a rendition of I Still Call Australia Home.
For fans of Ben Folds, orchestral music, or any live musical performance, check out My Name’s Ben i play piano.