Xan Aranda, Director/Producer
“A cunning hybrid of
documentary and concert film…”
--The Film Society of Lincoln Center
"...It's a music documentary that's entertaining, lyrical and oddly revealing... definitely worth seeing." --indieWIRE
A true product of the Midwest work ethic (with crew from three states contributing their talents to its making), Andrew Bird: Fever Year premiered at the prestigious New York Film Festival in 2011 and screened with more than 90 festivals, taking home nine awards.
Filmed during culminating months of the acclaimed singer-songwriter’s most rigorous year of touring, Andrew Bird crosses the December finish line in his hometown of Chicago – feverish and on crutches from an onstage injury. Is he suffering hazards from chasing the ghost of inspiration? Or merely transforming into a different kind of animal “perfectly adapted to the music hall?” Fever Year is the first to capture Bird’s precarious multi-instrumental looping technique and features live performances at Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater with collaborators Martin Dosh, Jeremy Ylvisaker, Michael Lewis and Annie Clark of St. Vincent. 80 minutes, Dolby Surround
Poster and title design by Sonnenzimmer of Chicago
Here, I’m tucking one of my favorite humans in to bed. This shot of Neko Case, emerging from deep sleep, is one of my favorites in the trailer. She’d been intensely busy in months leading up to our shoot, it was nice to let her drift off while I reset her limbs and locks for each take.
A few months previous, Neko sent a dozen fresh songs and told me to pick one to use as enticement for her long-awaited new album. The trailer was released online June 7, 2013, viewed over 50,000 times during the first 24 hours, and aggregated by Billboard, Spin, Pitchfork, CMJ and numerous others.
Thrilling for my team after pulling 20-hour days in Vermont, buying two-for-one fireworks on sale, bringing crew and gear in from New York City, and hoping for good weather. Happy times.
Neko Case is with Anti- Records.
Images: Benjamin Kasulke
Xan Aranda, Director/Producer
I'm midway through creation of a (currently untitled) documentary co-production with Kartemquin Films (Hoop Dreams). We're fundraising for the big finish. Read about the film here:
Inspired by dramatic religious educational films her mother starred in while a student at Brigham Young University during the 1960s, director Xan Aranda faces her personal departure from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and its impact on their promise of a "forever family." Against the backdrop of this evolving religion's American and Mexican pioneer roots, Mormon Movie (WT) chronicles Xan's reconnection with the LDS community, interweaving her story of teenage doubt with her mother's films and enduring faith, Xan's father's struggle as a gay Mormon Mexican, and her quest to create a sequel to her mother's first film with collaborators in Utah.
This project was developed with the support of the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Mormon Movie is also partially supported by a Community Arts Assistance Program grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.
Xan Aranda, Co-Producer
After sending her last kid to college, and retiring from a thirty-year career in advertising, May May Tchao began taking documentary film classes. She soon hired me to co-produce her film Spilled Water. Strangers at first, we joked that I was her midwife, assisting with the birth of her first film at the age of sixty.
Spilled Water had its world premiere at the Gene Siskel Film Center. During broadcast in Chicago, the film was viewed by more than 26,000 people. Pretty great for a first-timer.
Spilled Water explores how the economic transformation of China is changing the roles, rights, and social status of its women. Wanting to connect with her "distant sisters", decades after emigrating to the United States, May May returns to China and explores the very different lives of four women. From the urban hustle of Beijing to the desolate beauty of rural provinces, their intimate stories show us why gender equality in China is so hard-earned... and worth the struggle.
Documentary, 54 minutes, 2014
Xan Aranda, Co-Producer
This award-winning documentary film directed by David E. Simpson screened on five continents, aired on PBS with Independent Lens, and received four stars from the Chicago Tribune.
Milking the Rhino examines the deepening conflict between humans and animals in an ever-shrinking world. It is the first major documentary to explore wildlife conservation from the perspective of people who live with wild animals. Shot in some of the world’s most magnificent locales, MTR offers complex, intimate portraits of rural Africans at the forefront of community-based conservation: a revolution that is turning poachers into preservationists and local people into the stewards of their land.
Documentary, 83 minutes, 2008
Xan Aranda, Outreach Director
Prisoner of Her Past is a documentary by Kartemquin Films founder Gordon Quinn and Chicago Tribune journalist Howard Reich. It took five years to make, then they put the film in my hands. I handled the broadcast, international screenings and festival run, press, and community engagement campaign.
Prisoner of Her Past tells the haunting story of a secret childhood trauma resurfacing, sixty years later, to unravel the life of Sonia Reich. The film follows her son as he journeys across the United States and Eastern Europe to uncover why his mother believes the world is conspiring to kill her. Along the way, he finds a family he never knew he had.
This film is the first to expose a little-known illness: late-onset Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Prisoner of Her Past examines the disorder's devastating effect on families. But it also shows programs that are aiding young trauma survivors of Hurrican Katrina-- and how such early interventions may have helped Holocaust survivors.
Documentary, 57 minutes, 2011