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Wilco Film Debuts This Month

Wider opening set for July and August

Director Sam Jones’ I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, a
documentary about the making of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel
, has been accepted at the Los Angeles Film Festival
and will make its world premiere there later this month. Theatrical
opening dates have also been set up for New York (July 26th), and
Chicago and Los Angeles (both August 2nd).

The black and white film has consumed a year and a half of
Jones’ life. The filmmaker and photographer approached Wilco
frontman Jeff Tweedy in late 2000 about possibly shooting the band
as it went into the studio to record its fourth record. “I just
started thinking about the idea of being around when seminal albums
were being made,” Jones said. “I wanted to find a band that fit the
traditional real band, rather than something that was put
together a corporate act or solo act or something. Wilco had the
spirit of [Bob Dylan and the Band’s] The Basement Tapes, a
band that has it going in an honest sense. So I just sent them a
letter and said, ‘You’re probably starting work on your fourth
record. If the last two records are any indication, this could be
the creative moment in your career, and I’d like to be around to
film the whole process.’ They made a few inquiries about me and I
flew to Chicago to meet with Jeff. I walked away thinking that he
can be a subject of a film without being boring and not be full of
himself. He seemed like a guy who was pretty honest with

Jones returned to Chicago in January 2001, and ended up
witnessing the entirety of the tumultuous year that birthed the
record. His first day in Chicago, Jones was told that drummer Ken
Coomer had departed the band. “So in a way we missed that, but it
meant that they had to start the record over,” Jones says. “So in
that sense I got there at a beginning.”

And so the project continued; each time Jones thought the end
was near, another wrinkle emerged, including the departure of
multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett and the band’s break with Reprise
Records. “There was a show July 4th in Chicago that turned out to
be Jay’s last show, and it was huge,” he says. “It was 40,000
people in Grant Park. We really kind of felt that would be the
final concert stuff we would need. We got three cameras and really
blew our wad on it. Three months later Jeff calls me and says Jay’s
out of the band. We had to rethink it, so we went back on the road
with them and I’m glad we did. Seeing them have to rehearse from
the ground up without Jay, and talking to Jeff about what that
meant, and having them pull it off so well comes across in the

Among the footage Jones shot included interviews with Bennett
following his departure, and a serendipitous segment of the band’s
manager receiving word from Reprise that Wilco had been dropped.
But Jones says the more tantalizing, gossipy snippets aren’t among
his choice footage. “We’ve captured some acoustic performances that
are my favorite things,” he says. “You can get live footage
anywhere. Jeff is a guy that plays the guitar and sings all the
time, wherever he is. Whether it’s a hotel room or his house or
sitting around the rehearsal studio. We’ve managed to capture these
acoustic performances that are really cool. They really feel like
you’re sitting in on his thought process.”


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