Director Jonathan Demme was on hand at SXSW for the world premiere of his concert film, Neil Young Trunk Show. The film is an intimate look at Neil Young’s stage show, recorded in a small theater in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, on mostly hand-held cameras. “We did a home movie in a way,” said Demme to a Saturday afternoon crowd in Austin’s Paramount Theatre. “We did it all ourselves.”
The Oscar-award winning director (Silence Of The Lambs, Philadelphia) said the film was a “reaction” to his 2006 Neil Young concert doc Heart Of Gold. Whereas Heart Of Gold was a meticulous tangle of editing and forethought, Trunk Show was filmed on a whim, aiming to find truth and heart with a more spontaneous approach. Says Demme, “We didn’t plan anything. This was the easiest film in the world to make.” Over a dozen Young tracks were shot in high-definition and a few were given a more expressionist, grainy feel. A warts-and-all approach catches all the ephemera Young spread across the stage for this tour (telephones, a tiny guitar shop, a pirate flag), as well as the heating pipes, stage lights, wires, cameramen and industrial fans helping power the Tower Theatre gig. A look backstage even catches a doctor looking at one of Young’s troublesome fingernails.
The SXSW audience at the premiere applauded the film’s songs — especially the classic “Cinnamon Girl” and a 20-minute version of 2007’s “No Hidden Path.” When an audience member asked Demme what he envisions for a possible third movie in a Neil Young trilogy, he responded. “It’s gonna be outdoors… I could be so lucky.”