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Laramie Movie Scope:
Presenting Princess Shaw

Documentary of collaboration between singer and video artist

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(2015, English and Hebrew) A stunning documentary by filmmaker Ido Haar of a singing Cinderella story in which the glass slipper is YouTube videos of songs. A 38-year-old caretaker of elderly residents in a New Orleans facility, Samantha Montgomery reimagines herself as Princess Shaw speaking of her feelings ("Not easy to be alone with myself") or vocalizing a song she's composed for a session on YouTube. Her hair dyed red, orthodontic braces on her teeth, she sometimes performs at open-mic venues with few patrons.

On the kibbutz Tze'elim in Negev, Israel, Ophir Kutiel, a composer and video artist who goes by Kutiman, "creates visual symphonies using random YouTube footage uploaded by people from all over the world" who are unaware of their inclusion as participants in the mash-up of clips. Internationally known through articles published in The New York Times and elsewhere, Kutiman does not communicate with those he samples in his collages nor does he sell the products of his silent collaborations.

The documentary opens with a showing of his videos at the Guggenheim Museum. After discovering Princess Shaw's a cappella songs, recorded through her smartphone, Kutiman adds instrumental accompaniment of keyboards, guitar, percussion, xylophone, trombone, strings, or whatever else he decides appropriate.

Online Princess Shaw shares with her invisible audience disappointment at not getting into The Voice competition, relates how the tires on her car were stolen, narrates her eight-year relationship with girlfriend Olivia ("my muse"); she also recites from her autobiography of guilt, shame, violation, writing about being physically and sexually abused as a child. Nevertheless, she regularly calls her mother, the formerly cruel, unprotective parent.

Believing she's not progressing musically in New Orleans, Samantha takes a Greyhound bus to Atlanta, staying with a relative, to check out possibilities in the "new Motown." There by chance she learns of Kutiman's remake of her song "Give It Up," listening to the cantata from the original sampling, with 7,900 views. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoHxoz_0ykI

More than a million views (in excess of 2.9 million as of this writing) later, Kutiman invites her to Israel for a live performance with him and his musicians.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2016 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)