Monday, January 22, 2007

Hillbilly Babylon: The View from Berlin

Hillbilly Babylon is the name of a Appalachian film and bluegrass music festival in Berlin. I'm not familiar with the musicians (they seem to be Europeans), but the 2006 film line-up looked quite interesting. I particularly like the Welcome page which explains Appalachia thus:

Hier setzt HILLBILLY BABYLON an. In einer Reihe von Dokumentationen zeigen wir das Bild eines sehr eigenen Menschenschlags, rau, unabhängig, oftmals sehr arm. Wir zeigen Menschen mit einem fast anarchisch anmutenden Freiheitsdenken, verbunden mit einer tiefen Religiosität und einer allgegenwärtigen Melancholie. Einen besonderen Schwerpunkt widmen wir der traditionellen Musik der Region. Moderne Country- und Bluegrass-Musik haben sich daraus entwickelt. Das alles vor dem Hintergrund einer fantastischen, naturbelassenen Landschaft. Neben den Dokumentationen zeigen wir eine Reihe von Spielfilmen, die sich auf unterschiedliche Weise mit der Hillbilly-Thematik befassen.

Here's their English version, which doesn't sound nearly as intellectual, except for the "ubiquitous melancholia."

Here, HILLBILLY BABYLON begins. In a series of documentaries we show a very unique ethnic group, coarse, independent, often very poor. We show people with an almost anarchist sense of freedom, tied with a deep religiosity and an ubiquitous melancholia. A special emphasis is placed on the traditional music of the region. It is the origin of modern country- and bluegrass-music. All this framed by a scenic, fantastic landscape. Aside from the documentaries, we show a number of feature films that deal with the hillbilly theme in different ways.


Dave said...

I don't know about "deep religiosity." I read somewhere that Appalachia has the fewest church-goers of any region in the country.

Rebecca Clayton said...

I think they base these stereotypes on the music. European folkies I've met are often puzzled or put off by Old-Time and bluegrass hymn-singing. I certainly don't see more "ubiquitous meloncholia" here than in the flatlands, and when it comes to "rauh," well, I'll take Manhattan.