Report/Review: Gala Screening of Golriz Kolahi's 'Gilad And All That Jazz' at The Soho Hotel Cinema, London W1 on Wednesday 30th May 2012, part of the London International Documentary Festival

2nd June 2012

A Gala Screening of the Best Feature Documentary, Logan Film Festival 2012 winning Golriz Kolahi Film 'Gilad And All That Jazz' with Question-and Answer Session with the director and production team plus drinks reception with Gilad Atzmon and the director and producers.

The full creative team were:

Golriz Kolahi - director/producer; David Alamouti - producer; Antonio Rui Ribeiro - editor; Laura Bellingham - photography; Tommy Clark - photography; Teddy Powell - development producer; Gilad Atzmon - music; Dario Swade - sound designer
A Production of Contra Image
Duration: 62 min

The Soho Hotel
4 Richmond Mews, London W1D 3DH
Wednesday 30th May 2012
7pm - app. 9pm

Gilad And All That Jazz

Having first heard about a documentary feature film being made about Gilad Atzmon a couple of years ago, I could not help being very curious what kind of documentary it would be half of the time, and the other half almost forgetting all about it. Here, finally, was the chance to find out, at the London Gala Screening of Golriz Kolahi's Gilad And All That Jazz at The Soho Hotel last night, in the heart of what once was the heart of the British film industry, Soho, a mere stone's throw from The Pizza Express Jazz Club, one of London's favourites. And the venue that could almost be described as Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble's 'home,' where they have probably appeared more times than at any other and are due to have a three-day residency again next week.

As was only to be expected, the screening had sold out several days ahead, and the large-screened but intimate cinema at The Soho Hotel was filled to capacity, the attendees plied with generous amounts of wines and mineral waters upon arrival.

Golriz Kolahi's film came as a huge surprise, a pleasant one I hasten to add. Gilad And All That Jazz focused on Atzmon, the man, the jazz colossus, the humanist activist, rather than on just a single aspect of this complex personality. It gave a well balanced account of Atzmon's life, from a thoroughly Zionist childhood through the important turning points of his life - hearing Charlie 'Bird' Parker on the radio late one night as a teenager, and experiencing and realising the inhumanity of the Israeli state and its military as a conscript - to his becoming the greatest jazz musician of our age, the modern day Bird (and throw John Coltrane in there as well), and the tireless, always controversial humanist activist and public speaker, thinker, writer for the cause of Palestinian rights and freedom.

Gilad And All That Jazz featured frank contributions from Atzmon's family, mother Ariella, father Yona, and wife Tali, as well as musical collaborators such as drummer Asaf Sirkis - a founder member of Atzmon's OHE until 2009 - and fellow Blockheads Derek 'The Draw' Hussey and Norman Watt-Roy. We also saw Nigel Kennedy duetting with Atzmon.

The film also contains upsetting scenes of the Israeli forces' brutality and sheer inhumanity against the Palestinians.

But also, Kolahi gave some of Atzmon's detractors such as David Aaronovitch (of London's The Times and The Jewish Chronicle) more than sufficient rope to hang themselves. True to form, they made such semi-literate asses of themselves that this provided plenty of comic relief to the film. I say semi-literate on account of Atzmon's detractors appearing to be unable to actually read what he writes, and often having to invent quotes that they then attribute to him.


The warmth, the passion, the intensity, the shyness, the charisma of Atzmon, both the musician and the humanist political activist and thinker, were well portrayed in Gilad And All That Jazz, without the film ever taking sides. Atzmon's often achingly beautiful music was well juxtaposed with the humanist political aspects and the harsh reality.

Kolahi's documentary will only grow in importance as time goes by as a significant historical document, of both Atzmon the jazz titan, and Atzmon the humanist intellectual campaigner. You cannot have one without the other, they are one and the same. Both are an integral part of his quest for beauty, truth and freedom. Nothing more, nothing less than the artist's duty sometimes.

The whole creative team must be congratulated both on an excellent, superb documentary, and the technical excellence of the production, which was outstanding.

After a brief interval, a Question and Answer session with director and producer Golriz Kolahi, producer David Alamouti and development producer Teddy Powell followed. This soon became highly animated, with both pro and con sides having their say. Frequently, Gilad Atzmon himself was drawn to answer particular points. Of course, few events such as this involving Atzmon would be complete without one of his most vocal detractors, Naomi Wimborne Idrissi, who - true to 'Anti-Zionist Zionist' form claims to support the Palestinian cause 'as a Jew.' Only on this occasion she actually attended the event rather than staying outside with some placard or other and a handful of supporters. Rather than asking a question, Wimborne Idrissi, despite repeated requests from the panel - as well as from members of the audience - to state her question proceeded with her usual polemic at such length that she was was finally shouted down by what seemed like most of the audience.

At the end of this session, everybody was invited to one of the hotels reception rooms, where further helpings of wines, mineral waters and small snacks were available. Perhaps inevitably, predictably, rather than the director and the producers of Gilad And All That Jazz, Atzmon himself became the most sought conversation partner, although many other small chat groups formed, dissolved, then others would take their place, and so on. Guests much in demand were Blockheads Derek 'The Draw' Hussey and Lee Harris, and well known mediator Irving Rappaport, who also acted as facilitator of a panel discussion as part of the book launch of Gilad Atzmon's The Wandering Who? last October.

The whole event of the screening of Golriz Kolahi's Gilad And All That Jazz and reception was extremely well organised, most interesting, as well as enjoyable. But above all, kudos to Ms. Kolahi and her superb documentary and the whole production team.

 
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