70th Venice International Film Festival
Director: Alberto Barbera
Biennale College - Cinema
A rising star descends into madness trying to save his troubled soul. A strange singer with “god given talent” drifts through his adopted city of Memphis under its canopy of ancient oak trees, shattered windows, and burning spirituality. Surrounded by beautiful women, legendary musicians, a stone-cold hustler, a righteous preacher, and a wolfpack of kids, the sweet yet unstable performer avoids the recording studio and is driven to spend time in his own form of self-discovery. His journey quickly drags him from love and happiness right to the edge of another dimension.
Featuring an explosive performance and score from the singular recording artist-come-wizard, Willis Earl Beal, Memphis is a film steeped in folklore, music, authenticity, surrealism, and the search for glory within the abstract harmonies of life in a mythic city.
language: English - s/t Italian
Willis Earl Beal
It is legend in Memphis that a blessed and cursed singer by the name of O.V. Wright fell from grace and was buried in an unmarked grave. I learned of his myth around the same time I was brought to Peace Baptist Church, and witnessed a deep spirituality as ancient as the oak trees that dress every street in the city. A true believer in ghost stories and a scholar of African American studies, I was drawn to tell my own folk tale, and there was only one place on my mind. Our film captures the descent of a troubled singer as he drifts through an urban landscape looking to save his very soul. We surrounded ourselves with real Memphians and made a film that hopes to project a cool, beautiful world—as old as dirt and yet entirely new, and deserved of the title Memphis.