SIFF Face the Music 2017 Preview: Give Me Future

Gabe Pollak

Give Me Future(Directed by Austin Peters, 2017, 85 minutes)

Festival Screenings:Friday, May 19 at 8:30PM – SIFF Cinema UptownSaturday, May 20 at 3:30PM - Majestic BayFriday, June 2 at 9:00PM - Ark Lodge Cinemas[Director Austin Peters scheduled to attend this weekend's screenings]

Remember how long you waited for that one band to come to town, how vigilantly you scanned the listings, praying for a new album, a West Coast tour, for the singer to stop screwing around with solo projects. It always felt like a lifetime, but it never was.

If you can't recall the feeling, go see Give Me Future, a documentary about Major Lazer's historic concert in Cuba in 2016, showing this weekend at SIFF Cinema Uptown and Majestic Bay as part of the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). The fans at that show really did have to wait a lifetime to see the globetrotting dancehall-electro party starters play their country--it wasn't until 2015 that the U.S. and Cuba resumed diplomatic relations, opening up the possibility for bands to visit--and you can see that air of anticipation on screen.

Give Me Future is simultaneously a reminder of that sense of excitement, a light shined on Cuba's vibrant DIY community, and a celebration of youth culture that so often spawns the next big thing in music. Even more, you don't have to be a fan of Major Lazer to appreciate the film; it's a just a good story. Director Austin Peters, who will be at both screenings this weekend, backs up the film's themes with compelling characters, carefully selected sound bytes, and a mostly well-paced plot.Along the way, Peters balances testimonials from the band and their crew that the performance is really just one apolitical party to uplift the next generation of makers--Major Lazer manager Andrew McInnes says: "[The concert] is not a political thing, it's only about music and youth and communicating with people"--with cultural context from experts both on the ground and in the university. At times, Peters commits a pitfall of many rock docs, failing to fully challenge the band's PR-sanctioned message before blowing it up on the big screen. This is a real missed opportunity, as there exist plenty, albeit more political lenses (a dozen -ism's come to mind) with which to view the historic concert and the band's wide-sampling music.

Then again, this is a feel-good film, not a term paper. Give Me Future may not change the way you understand international politics, but it will probably remind you of the thrill of falling in love with a song, a band, or a genre for the first time.

Still unconvinced? Think of the music of your teenage years while reading the poetic words of Cuban electronic musician I.A., who gave the film its name:

I feel like I live in a city that is stuck in time, with noises that are still old, with old cars, where almost everything is completely analog, slow in its pace. For me, electronic music gives the possibility to channel a real need for movement which I don't have.... They're sounds that are more contemporary and fresh, that make you think of tomorrow, not only of today. That is why I like electronic music so much. It gives me a future.
Now do you remember?

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