Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine

News about Leonard Cohen and his work, press, radio & TV programs etc.
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MarieM
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Re: Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine

Post by MarieM » Wed Jul 13, 2022 11:04 am

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/01/movi ... ntary.html
New York Times

Trying to Capture the Life and Lyrics of That Wry Sage Leonard Cohen
The makers of a documentary on the singer-songwriter took a deep dive into his “writing and rewriting and erasing” to better understand the man.

By Nicolas Rapold
July 1, 2022

The documentary “Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song” illuminates the unpredictable paths taken by a singer-songwriter and his music. The directors, Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine (“Ballets Russes”), trace Cohen’s career from his early days in Montreal to his 21st-century renaissance, exploring his creative process, his spiritual search and how his perhaps best-known song, “Hallelujah,” took on a life of its own.

Of the musician’s sagelike appeal, A.O. Scott wrote in a Critic’s Pick review, “His gift as a songwriter and performer was rather to provide commentary and companionship amid the gloom, offering a wry, openhearted perspective on the puzzles of the human condition.”

I spoke with Geller and Goldfine about their insights into Cohen’s life and lyrical artistry, and his enduring mysteries.

What did you learn about Leonard Cohen that surprised you most?

DAN GELLER He was clearly struggling to find his sense of place in his life, his universe and his love life — and in his spiritual life. He was seeking so deeply over decades, and when that went away, as he said, “The search itself dissolved,” and a lightness entered his being. He couldn’t even explain why. And he didn’t want to examine it too much because he was afraid that by examining it, it might go away again.

DAYNA GOLDFINE I had thought that the only reason he had gone back out on the road in his mid-70s, after a 14-or-15-year hiatus, was because he had had all his money ripped off, and it was a financial compulsion. But just as important was that Leonard felt as if he had never truly reached the same level as a performer as he thought he might have reached as a singer-songwriter. You really saw him then reaching this pinnacle that made a Leonard Cohen concert so deep and so spiritual.

He’s amazing in archival interviews because he essentially speaks in lyrics. What is that wonderful phrase he casually drops, “the foothills of old age”?

GOLDFINE Yes! “70 is indisputably not youth. It’s not extreme old age, but it’s the foothills of old age.” Isn’t that gorgeous? I found Leonard’s wit both immensely gratifying and also surprising. Especially in the first couple decades of his career, he was painted as this monster of gloom. But if you really hang with him and listen to what he’s saying, he’s one of the funniest guys ever. It’s a very droll, dry wit.

Whenever possible, we tried to come up with something fresh so that even the most devout Leonard Cohen head would find something new in our film, or if we were going to use a piece of archival material that had been used in the past, we would try to reframe it. Rabbi [Mordecai] Finley, for instance, reframes some of the material in a really interesting way that gives you a fresh perspective.

What were the biggest revelations about “Hallelujah” and Cohen’s writing process?

GOLDFINE I hadn’t realized the sheer number of verses that Leonard was writing and rewriting and erasing and reconfiguring throughout the five or so years that it took him to write that song. And then the number of times that he reconfigured the song in performing it. I love in the film where he takes it from the King David Old Testament version of the song and moves it into a secular realm.

GELLER There’s also the way that other people have responded to the song — listening to John Cale or Brandi Carlile or Eric Church, to hear why they resonated with the song. It’s given me a window into the souls of these other singer-songwriters.

His notebooks are fascinating because there are versions of lines that have different resonances but are also super powerful. “When David played, his fingers bled, he wept for every word he said” — that’s an incredible line there, too! He could have stopped anywhere along the way and had maybe an equally powerful song.

GOLDFINE You also see the very first incarnation of “Anthem,” one of his most famous songs, and the first time he ever wrote that line: “There’s a crack in everything.” That almost brought tears to my eyes when I saw it — the first infant steps of “Anthem.” Also in those notebooks you see his datebook, and the first time he met Dominique Issermann, the woman he considered the first great love of his life.

Although you couldn’t interview Cohen, did you hear anything from him while making the film?

GELLER The Dominique [interview] was interesting because she was staying with Leonard at the time when we were going to film her. She said that he asked her, “Look, if they start asking questions like, ‘Was it your kitchen chair that he was tied to when he wrote the song?’ don’t let them go down that path.” This is the only direct, or close to direct, feedback we ever got from Leonard. Of course, we would never ask that! But I thought, That’s good, because what he was really saying is: Don’t concretize the song and its lyrics. Leave it open to interpretation, and a mystery. Don’t make it specific to Leonard himself.

What’s your favorite version of “Hallelujah”?

GOLDFINE When I was embroiled in shaping the John Cale section, I just couldn’t get enough of the John Cale version. And Jeff Buckley was the first “Hallelujah” that I ever heard, and it blew me away. But at the end of the day, it’s Leonard Cohen singing it in those last five years’ worth of concerts and, night after night, getting down on his knees to start that song.

GELLER Buckley’s haunting guitar arpeggios are so beautiful and exquisite. I love those and his gorgeous voice. But Leonard performing it live — we saw him do it twice at the Paramount Theater in Oakland. Just watching someone truly stand in the center of his song, a song that’s filled with the complications of yearning, of brokenness, of hopefulness, of love, of sex — all of it!

Marie
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Re: Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine

Post by MarieM » Wed Jul 13, 2022 11:22 pm

A deep-dive into the eponymous iconic hymn, HALLELUJAH: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song chronicles the life of legendary musician Leonard Cohen, whose poetry evolved into a successful career as a singer-songwriter.

See it FRIDAY in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. Additional cities JULY 22.

Tickets: https://cinplx.co/3OPBkHI

The documentary wraps a biography of Cohen -- loaded with archival footage and interviews with friends and admirers -- around the story of the song "Hallelujah." The New York Times calls the film "a generous documentary ... likely to be a source of illumination for both die-hard and casual fans, and even to people who love Cohen's most famous song without being aware that he wrote it."
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Marie
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Re: Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine

Post by Citizen_Kane » Thu Jul 14, 2022 1:18 pm

MarieM wrote:
Tue Jul 12, 2022 10:26 pm
European and Australian dates coming.
Very much looking forward to the announcement of the European dates!
Thanks, Marie, for all the updates.

Kind regards,
2008: Manchester, Brussels (2), Rotterdam - 2009: Lisboa - 2010: Lille, Dortmund - 2012: Ghent (3), Amsterdam (2) - 2013: Antwerp, Oberhausen, Brussels, Rotterdam, Amsterdam!
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Re: Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine

Post by Andrew (Darby) » Thu Jul 14, 2022 6:54 pm

It being the first day of screening of this film in Melbourne, I made a point of attending an afternoon session.

I don't want to attempt a detailed and thorough-going review of this lengthy documentary film (118 mins), as there are professional ones already in this thread. I simply will say it was both informative and engrossing, with some interesting interviews throughout, along with snippets of various Hallelujah covers that we are all familiar with.

I would say that most of the information in the documentary would not be news to many or most here, but I must say there were a few things I was not aware of.

I will refrain from rating it on any alpha or numeric scale, just simply concluding that it is well worth seeing this documentary, even though at times I felt it wasn’t so seamless and some of the transplanted archival film footage reflects the inferior quality of the initial recordings and equipment in use back in the day.

I will probably see it at least another time, then I might have to further qualify or amend what I’ve written here. ;-)

Cheers,
Andrew :)
'I cannot give the reasons
I only sing the tunes
The sadness of the seasons
The madness of the moons'
~ Mervyn Peake ~
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Re: Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine

Post by AlanM » Fri Jul 15, 2022 3:36 am

Hi Andrew,
Good to read that you enjoyed the movie.
Any information on it coming to Adelaide?

Alan
Too much Leonard Cohen is never enough.
London 1972, Adelaide 1980, 1985, 2009
Sydney 2010; Adelaide 2010
Sydney 2013 X2; Melbourne 2013; Adelaide 2013
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Re: Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine

Post by MarieM » Fri Jul 15, 2022 4:05 am

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/30/movi ... eview.html
‘Hallelujah’ Review: From Leonard Cohen to Cale to Buckley to Shrek
A new documentary tells the entwined stories of a songwriter and his best-known composition.

By A.O. Scott
Published June 30, 2022

Leonard Cohen’s final album, released in October 2016, is called “You Want It Darker.” He died on Nov. 7, the day before the U.S. presidential election, and in the years since, things have grown very dark indeed.

Cohen wasn’t one to offer comfort. His gift as a songwriter and performer was rather to provide commentary and companionship amid the gloom, offering a wry, openhearted perspective on the puzzles of the human condition. “Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song” is, accordingly, not a movie designed to make you feel better about anything, except perhaps Cohen himself. But this generous documentary is nonetheless likely to be a source of illumination for both die-hard and casual fans, and even to people who love Cohen’s most famous song without being aware that he wrote it.

That’s “Hallelujah,” of course, which you can hear at weddings and funerals, on singing-competition reality television shows and in too many movies to count. The directors, Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine, wrap a circumspect biography of the singer — loaded with archival footage and interviews with sundry friends and admirers, including a rabbi and a Canadian government official — around the story of the song.

It’s quite a story. “Hallelujah” took something like seven years to finish — Cohen’s own estimates varied. Larry Sloman, a music journalist who knew Cohen well and interviewed him often, surmises that there may be as many as 180 verses, starting with the one everybody knows. By now, we’ve all heard about the secret chord that David played, and it pleased the Lord.

But “Hallelujah” did not please the executives at Columbia Records, who refused to release “Various Positions,” an album recorded in 1983 that also included the future classic “Dance Me to the End of Love.” John Lissauer, who produced the LP and who had worked on and off with Cohen since the early ’70s, recalls the label’s decision with dismay and surprisingly good humor, given the damage done to his professional prospects. (“Various Positions” was eventually released on a small American label.)

At the time, Cohen had been recording for nearly 20 years, though he was also something of a musical late bloomer. He was past 30 when he turned to songwriting, having established himself as a poet and figure on the Canadian literary scene. The filmmakers sketch his early life and career, noting his privileged upbringing in the Westmount section of Montreal, his interest in Jewish and Zen Buddhist religious teachings and his reputation as a Casanova. (His fifth studio album is called “Death of a Ladies’ Man.”)

Personal matters stay mostly in the background. Suzanne Elrod, his partner in the mid-70s, is briefly mentioned — we’re reminded that she was not the inspiration for the song “Suzanne” — and their children are glimpsed but not named. Dominique Issermann, the photographer with whom Cohen lived on the Greek island of Hydra, reminisces fondly about their time together. But “Hallelujah” is interested in Cohen’s private life mainly insofar as it suggests themes for his work.

These could be divided up — spiritual, sexual, existential, emotional — but he specialized in tracing the entanglement of those categories of experience. Sloman, citing an unidentified critic, says that Cohen was most interested in “holiness and horniness.”

“Hallelujah” is his great anthem of religious ecstasy and sexual longing. Some versions emphasize the sacred, while others dwell on what another poet called “the expense of spirit in a waste of shame.” “All I’ve ever learned from love/Is how to shoot at someone who outdrew you”: Some singers omit that line (and the one about being tied to a kitchen chair), but even when transcendence seems to prevail over cynicism, the tension between sacred desire and profane disappointment remains.

The documentary’s account of the song’s fate, indebted to Alan Light’s book “The Holy or the Broken,” is a fascinating study in the mechanics and metaphysics of pop-culture memory. Bob Dylan, who admired Cohen, added “Hallelujah” to some of his set lists in the late ’80s. John Cale’s cover, recorded for a 1991 tribute album, brought the song to wider attention.

“From Cale to Buckley to Shrek” is Sloman’s synopsis. Jeff Buckley’s full-throated rendition injected “Hallelujah” into the ’90s pop mainstream. “Shrek,” the DreamWorks animated blockbuster about a lovelorn green ogre, repurposed Cale’s glum version. The soundtrack album, which sold millions of copies, included another one, more in the melodramatic Buckley mode, by Rufus Wainwright. The floodgates were open.

“It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth.” By the hundredth time, you might think the magic would be gone, but “Hallelujah” is one of those rare songs that survives its banalization with at least some of its sublimity intact.

Cohen lived to see its triumph, and the last third of the documentary is devoted to his comeback, including generous clips from his later concerts. He is, throughout, a vivid, complicated presence — witty, melancholy, well-dressed and soft-spoken. By the end, he radiates wisdom, gratitude, and the kind of fulfillment whose elusiveness had always been his great subject.



Marie
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Re: Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine

Post by Andrew (Darby) » Fri Jul 15, 2022 4:32 am

AlanM wrote:
Fri Jul 15, 2022 3:36 am
Hi Andrew,
Good to read that you enjoyed the movie.
Any information on it coming to Adelaide?

Alan
Alan, I believe it’s only Melbourne and Sydney screenings at present, with Canberra and Perth in August, but I expect it to have more widespread screenings in due course.

Cheers,
Andrew :)
'I cannot give the reasons
I only sing the tunes
The sadness of the seasons
The madness of the moons'
~ Mervyn Peake ~
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Re: Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine

Post by MarieM » Sun Jul 17, 2022 3:20 am

https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/movies ... uring-song
San Francisco Chronicle

‘Hallelujah’: The story behind Leonard Cohen’s most enduring song
Jessica Zack July 7, 2022

At a time when pop singers can dash off a song on their phone, post it online and achieve overnight success, it’s astounding to watch Leonard Cohen scribble and revise the lyrics to his famous song “Hallelujah” in notebooks over the course of more than five years in a new documentary by San Francisco filmmakers Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine.

In “Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song” (opening in theaters Friday, July 8), the Emmy-winning co-directors, who are married and live near Alamo Square, trace the unlikely artistic journey of the legendary singer-songwriter’s most enduring and widely covered song.

By doing so, their film, which is engaging even for those with only a casual interest in the Canadian troubadour, also becomes a moving portrait of the poet turned musician who was on a lifelong quest to square his spiritual hunger (Cohen spent half a decade living in a Zen monastery) with his secular and sexual longings for connection.

“He wrote so many great songs and so many deep songs, but this one, as (Canadian broadcaster and lifelong friend of Cohen’s) Adrienne Clarkson says in voice-over at the very beginning of the movie, ‘contains all the elements of who he is,’ ” Geller told The Chronicle.

Geller and Goldfine spoke in a suite at the Fairmont Hotel, where they were spending the day doing press interviews. Cohen, pictured in his trademark fedora in the movie’s promotional poster, peered out from behind them, as if overseeing the conversation.

“ ‘Hallelujah’ is a distillation of the contradictions and the yearnings that are Leonard Cohen,” Geller said. “It was his own Rorschach.”

The directors explained that their deep dive into Cohen-ology began before either of them were anything close to die-hard fans. They saw Cohen perform “Hallelujah” at the Paramount in Oakland during his final world tours in 2009 and 2011.

“He poured everything he had into those performances, throwing himself to the ground on his knees,” remembered Geller.

“There was something magical going on,” Goldfine said. “It was beyond a regular performance, something spiritual, quasi-religious was happening. So we began to realize, we could probably plumb the man as well as the song, because they seemed to be entwined. There’s a searcher in Leonard Cohen, and that’s what began our research.”

She and Geller are known for their meticulously crafted, character-centered docs with multiple narratives, and for breathing fresh life into rare footage. Their last three projects — “The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden” (2013), “Something Ventured” (2011) and “Ballets Russes” (2005) — have been critically acclaimed.

Cohen gave his approval for a “Hallelujah” documentary in 2014, shortly before his 80th birthday. He was past the point of granting interviews and would die just two years later. But the filmmakers managed to uncover rare archival footage and audio recordings, including cassettes of interviews Cohen did with music writer Larry “Ratso” Sloman, which became invaluable contributions to the film.

Goldfine and Geller began the process of weaving everything together, including glimpses into Cohen’s private notebooks and photographs, as well as interviews with his friends, ex-lovers, music industry collaborators and even his rabbi.

Their film examines how “Hallelujah,” which was initially rejected by Columbia Records in the 1980s, was resurrected by artists like Bob Dylan (who himself has bragged of writing some of his songs in 15 minutes in the back of a taxi) and then John Cale and Jeff Buckley, and eventually ascended over the past few decades into the ranks of pop ubiquity.

“Hallelujah” is played at weddings and memorials, when we’re lovestruck or in need of consolation, and in everything from the animated movie “Shrek” and the artist biopic “Basquiat” to “American Idol” and at the COVID-19 memorial service in Washington, D.C., on the eve of President Biden’s January 2021 inauguration.

In the film, people close to Cohen variously call the song a “riddle,” a “symbolist poem,” a “prayer” — and, always, a “mystery.”

Discussing the capricious nature of artistic inspiration, Cohen says in the movie: “If I knew where a song came from, I would go there more often.”

What he did was keep writing and amending his verses to “Hallelujah,” adding some that were more sexual, others more secular. “The verses range in number anywhere from 80 to 350, depending on who was telling us the story,” said Goldfine.

In one striking audio clip in the film, Cohen describes to Sloman the mental torment he experienced trying to finish writing “Hallelujah,” including breaking down in anguish at one point and banging his head on the floor of his hotel room.

In reply, Sloman asks, “Do you think everyone takes this much care with a pop song?”

“I didn’t realize when we started how unbelievably rich a field this would be to walk through, exploring one of the great songwriter-poet-artists of the 20th and 21st centuries,” said Goldfine. “It became so much more than just a movie about a song.”

“Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song” (PG-13) opens in Bay Area theaters Friday, July 8.

Marie
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Re: Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine

Post by MarieM » Wed Jul 20, 2022 3:56 am

https://povmagazine.com/singing-hallelu ... cohen-doc/
POV Magazine (Canada)

Singing Hallelujah with Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine’s Leonard Cohen Doc
Documentary explores Cohen's journey through one of his most beloved--and re-recorded--songs.

BY JASON GORBER
JULY 11, 2022

Of all the iconic Canadian musicians who emerged during the’60s and ’70s, none was more iconoclastic than Leonard Cohen. A poet born of privilege, a late starter with a lascivious air and suave style, he sometimes felt out of place among a generation newly fascinated by vibrant and flowery youth. It was as if Cohen was born to appear as a wizened curmudgeon, part Talmudic scholar and part rakish ladies’ man. Like Mordecai Richler, a fellow Montreal Jew, he embodied an acerbic, dark, charismatic air that was immensely inviting. He sang of blowjobs with bemusement and wrote prayer-like odes to an indifferent holy spirit, all presented with a growling baritone that became more intoxicating as he grew into its weathered, aged timbre.

On the one hand, Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song, the fabulous film from Emmy Award winning filmmakers Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine (Ballets Russes), is an unabashed celebration of Cohen. It shows in profound ways how the artist’s own spiritual journey provided some of the most exceptional music of an exceptional era. However, Hallelujah isn’t merely meant to thank the gods for gifting us with such a character. It’s also a fascinating, probing look at how one person’s art is shaped not only by audiences who are moved by it, but also those that end up reshaping it. Cohen’s most famous song is known by millions because of a cover of a cover. Geller and Goldfine acutely present how the adoration of this track occurred and how Cohen’s own journey with “Hallelujah” culminated with what easily could have been a forgotten track from a rejected record.

Hallelujah debuted last fall at Venice and Telluride, and it seems all the more preposterous that a work of such local interest couldn’t have found a home at TIFF 2021, but those are perhaps uncomfortable questions for others. Regardless, here in the Summer of 2022, the film is finally making its way to local theatres. It’s an absolute must see for any with a love of music, Cohen’s or otherwise.

We spoke to Geller and Goldfine prior to the film’s Canadian theatrical run.

POV: Jason Gorber
DanG: Dan Geller
DaynaG: Dayna Goldfine

The following has been edited for clarity and concision

POV: Let’s talk about Lenny. How were you introduced to his music?

DaynaG: My connection to Leonard and his music was more subliminal until we actually went to see him in concert. I believe that was 2009 or ’10 when he came through the area on that amazing five-year victory lap tour around the world. We were fortunate enough to have friends who took us to see him in Oakland at the Paramount Theatre and the rest is history. It was just this gobsmacking, life-changing performance.

DanG: We were knocking around the idea for a film. We weren’t quite sure what we wanted to do—it had been about a year since we’d finished The Galapagos Affair. David Thompson, the wonderful film writer, mentioned something about a book about a song, maybe a documentary about a song. That’s when the gears started turning and by the time we were at dessert, Dayna said, “Oh my god, what about Leonard Cohen and that song ‘Hallelujah’?” That began the research to start to see what really is going on with Leonard Cohen and that song and the depth of his incredible career.

DaynaG: For me though, it wasn’t just that his songs are great. It was the indelible image of seeing him at that Paramount Oakland show and watching him get to his knees as he started singing “Hallelujah.” It’s an image that is just burned into my brain. I’ll never forget it and it kind of came to me whole cloth after we discussed the concept of doing a documentary about a song.

POV: Based on that, did the Jeff Buckley cover version mean something to you potentially even before you the Cohen concert?

DanG: We first heard Buckley’s version at a friend’s house. Dayna and I bought Buckley’s Live at Sin-é CD box set when it was published in 2003. We played it over and over—not just “Hallelujah,” but we weren’t coming through a Cohen phase yet.

DaynaG: I could easily be among that quick montage of people in our film who are all saying the name Jeff Buckley when talking about the song. That was my introduction for sure.

POV: I love how the film deals with Leonard Cohen in a way that Leonard Cohen would have dealt with Leonard Cohen: with a sense of ironic detachment, of the surrealism of it all, and a recognition of both the comic and tragic nature of all of this. You had to get the tone right because you’re telling the story, of not only a man and his journey, but also a song. Can you talk about threading all of that together?

DanG: That [tone] was extremely important to us since it was a story about a spiritual journey as much as anything. It reflects the complexities of Leonard’s spiritual journey, which was wandering and serious and questioning all at once.

DaynaG: Our mission from the beginning was to tell the story of “Hallelujah” and tell Leonard’s story through the prism of that particular song. It freed us up in some ways. We didn’t need to do a cradle to grave, nitty-gritty biopic. We could really go along with his spiritual journey, which is what we thought reflected the journey of that song.

One of our rules of thumb early on was this notion of why is it that we think that Leonard Cohen is the only man in the universe who could have written “Hallelujah?” In order to get to the bottom of that question, you need to know a little about Leonard and his spiritual quest and his sense of the world and that guided us.

DanG: But the balance was not instant. The scales were wobbling back and forth through various cuts of the movie. We would test cuts on friends who we trust and who understand our artistic process enough to know that it wasn’t a finished movie. As it got closer to its equilibrium with tiny little adjustments, we got to a point where it seemed for most people that they were understanding the film as its unity rather than as two completely separate movies.

DaynaG: We were trying to give Leonard his due, which meant not being afraid to take time in the editing room. It wasn’t just “Hallelujah” that he spent four or five or six years or seven years writing. A lot of his compositions took quite a bit of time, so we were like, “This isn’t a race against the clock. Let’s take as much time as it takes to get that balance right.”

POV: I have a rule about music docs. It’s a very simple rule: if you hate the band, does the film still work? I was very skeptical going in, but this really is a beautiful film about music in general, and more importantly, how a song is taken away from an artist once it is unleashed. You say it’s Leonard’s spiritual journey, but it’s our spiritual journey as well through music.

DaynaG: Brandi Carlisle says towards the last third of the film that what’s so remarkable about a song if it struggles and makes its way out into the world against all odds is that it ultimately becomes its own thing, almost its own person. That’s what happened to “Hallelujah.” As filmmakers and artists, it was really gratifying to see that there are times when a good piece of work gets past the gatekeepers. I think that’s something to celebrate and give people hope.

POV: I knew a bit that Cohen had crafted both secular and the religious versions of the song, but I had never done the Talmudic dive on the variations, with what John Cale did, the Shrek version, and so on. Many of us hold up the poetry of Leonard Cohen on a pedestal, yet this song is evidence that even when the words are ripped apart from the artist, people respond to it. Your film shows that the audience inevitably will take ownership of it through different versions.

DanG: That’s a different take. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but you’re right.

DaynaG: Also, Leonard himself had a changing relationship with the song. The John Cale version worked into what it because he had gone to see Leonard when he played at the Beacon in the late ’80s and then thought he might want to cover the song and do his own take on it. But then “Ratzo” Sloman, the journalist, said “You know, there are two versions: there’s one on the album and then there’s one that you heard. You really ought to get both of those things and Leonard’s relationship with the song.” When you see Cohen in the five-year concert tour at the end of his life, it was very difficult to cut that montage of him singing it around the world. He picked different verses at almost every concert and every location, I’m guessing that it depended on what he was feeling that day.

POV: If you look at the Rolling Stone 500 songs list, the cover-of-a-cover, the Jeff Buckley version, is on there. The number one song is “Respect,” which Aretha “stole” from Otis’ original. Another is Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower,” and Dylan never played it again his way afterwards. Songs shift and songs are shaped, even for the artist. This is a film about Leonard Cohen, it’s a film about his song, but it’s also a film about music, and that’s what I think is so fundamental to its success. How much of that was conscious for you guys while making this?

DanG: I play guitar and I’ve always got my ear cocked towards the music and how it’s affecting me. Brian Monaco, one of the executives of Sony Music Publishing, had seen a fine cut of the movie. We had licensing to do with him and wanted him on board to understand what we were doing even though we’d made this film independently. Brian’s first reaction was that every budding songwriter in the world needs to see this movie. The film tells you a lot about the process of songwriting—not just craft, but the kind of thoughtfulness and refinement that goes into making music that can then transcend itself and be adopted by various audiences and other artists. It can be taken away from itself and become its own little gem and its own gift.

POV: Were there specific other films you looked at in terms of editing or tone?

DaynaG: 20 Feet from Stardom. Morgan Neville came on early as an Executive Producer and he gave us a lot of street cred.

DanG: The film was done at that point, having premiered at Venice and Telluride, but watching the Peter Jackson Beatles: Get Back documentary, I looked at that and knew that’s the tone, that’s it. You’re watching creativity, you’re watching the struggles that are involved and also the moments of sheer inspiration. There are moments when something just happens and it’s staggering. A beautiful thing arrives.

One of my favourite sections of the film has to do with Rabbi Finley talking about the Bat Kol, the feminine extension of creativity and God into the creator’s mind. You receive inspiration, you don’t know where it comes from, and then the work is to polish, polish, polish. That notion of receiving something and you don’t know how and you don’t know why is, for me, part and parcel of all creative process. They don’t have to be movies about the arts, but there are a lot of documentaries that that have an ostensible subject, but the rumbling underneath is what the movie is really about. The ostensible subject can be done with beautiful artistry, but what always gets me is the rumbling beneath.

POV: Morgan Neville is the master of this. He’s the master of whatever he’s talking about: Yo-Yo Ma, Springsteen, backup singers, or Bourdain. It doesn’t matter: you’re getting something precious about the preciousness of humanity.

DaynaG: Exactly. When he came on as E.P. it was just a very gratifying moment, because I admire his work so much.

DanG: Morgan and Dayna and I got into the Academy the same year. There was a little party, and we just clicked and became friends from that moment. When we were starting this movie, we went to Morgan because we knew he’d be smart about giving us feedback as part of our circle of trusted advisors. He also helped out with some things when we needed to do a shoot in L.A. This is the level of the person: at the very end, he asked with timidity if it would it be okay if we put “in association with Tremolo” at the end of the credits. I said of course we would do that!

POV: Let’s talk about the fundamental difference between this film and your previous works. What type of subjects were you looking at before, and were any nearly as mercurial as Leonard?

DaynaG: A common thread to all of our work, as Dan alluded to earlier, is that there’s a surface subject, and then there’s the subject that’s floating underneath that that may never necessarily be apparent. We think it adds to the emotional content of the film. For instance, Ballets Russes, which, on the surface, is about a ballet company that brought ballet to every place around the world. We got to interview all these people who had performed for various incarnations for 50 years, yet what it was really about wasn’t ballet so much as what person looks like if they’ve spent their entire lives living for the arts and fulfilling their own dreams, and choosing to do that without thinking about making money.

POV: Do they look like documentarians?

Both: [Laughter.]

DanG: I think about our non-arts films, like The Galapagos Affair, which, on its surface, is about a murder mystery that happened in the 1930s in the Galapagos Islands with a little group of people. The underlying theme is that wherever you go, you bring yourself. If you have problems, you will bring the problems. There’s no escaping civilization because you are civilization. Or for Frosh, we lived in a college freshman dorm for a year. Yes, it’s the American rite of passage, but underneath that, the film is about what happens when you put students from different races, different classes, different religious beliefs into a pressure cooker of a building and they cannot escape each other. When they are stuck in that dorm for a year, what starts to happen?

My thesis film was about the Sundance Filmmakers Lab when it was in its infancy. I had to show the final film to Robert Redford. He said afterwards that it’s great that the film has a sense of humor. He said it’s really important and not present enough in documentaries that there is a sense of humor. I think all of our films have a sense of humor.

DaynaG: We don’t always know what these undercurrents are when we’re starting on a project. I think we’d interviewed about a dozen of the Ballets Russes dancers before I turned to Dan and said “Oh, wow—now I get it.” I think I’d just turned 40 and was looking for role models in the aging process. So, selfishly, that’s what this project was for me, but if you would have told me that before we started, before we picked up our camera and microphone, I wouldn’t have got it.

POV: The greatest documentaries are those where the director has the courage to follow the story instead of follow their précis. How did this story shift?

DaynaG: It shifted a lot. Originally, we were thinking of a three-pronged braiding, which was the history of the song, then Leonard Cohen, the man, the spiritual seeker, the artist. Then we were going to have a third strand where we were going to follow a couple of artists, maybe two or three, who had never covered the song, as they unpacked it for themselves. That was going to be a vérité strand. We started reaching out to people and we were moving along in that direction, but we ended up editing the first act without that. We showed it to Hal Willner—he was our music guy and was going to cast that strand for us. He looked at the first cut of the first act, and he turned to us and said, “You guys don’t need that.” This is a different film and so he put himself out of a job in a way.

DanG: The balance increasingly shifted to Leonard the seeker and Leonard the deep soul. When we started the movie, I didn’t think we would see those two elements line up with each other in an equal balance. I thought it would be much more about the song, with enough of Leonard in there to support questions about why this song. We listened and listened. We were showing things to Robert Kory, who was Leonard’s manager in life and became the trustee of the family trust. We deeply believe in doing that with our subjects and began to accept this double-focus of the movie. It helped us access notebooks, Polaroids, selfies, and concert recordings.

POV: Can you talk about what you had to do to get these songs and if there were any creative restrictions, and therefore creative opportunities, about what you need to do to get licensing?

DanG: There were none and that was critical to us. It’s always been the case with our movies, on the ones we generate ourselves. The access developed out of a matter of trust over time. Robert, the more he saw what we were doing, the more he felt comfortable with what we were doing. He began to see that the Leonard he knew and knew well was showing up on screen in all of that complexity. It took him a long time to admit that the notebooks were still extant, to show us the notebooks, and then to give us full access to the notebooks. It took a while for these things to manifest, but there was never any moment of creative discord where he would say this is not what Leonard would ever would have wanted. He had a couple of factual challenges for us, which, of course, we were thankful for, and corrections of some misperceptions that had been published elsewhere.

DaynaG: He would pose questions to us more than anything. For me, one of the most valuable challenges he threw down was about those who believe the only reason Leonard went back out on the road in his mid-70s was that his manager had stolen his money. Robert let us know that it’s a lot more complex than that. That’s when we started really plumbing the archives and listening to what Leonard was really saying. He says, “Look, you know, 70 is not deep dark old age, but it’s definitely the foothills of old age and I’ve got a certain body of work that I want to complete and I’ve never really given up this dream of fulfilling my full potential on stage.” Yes, it was the financial thing, but it was this other thing too. They just coincided. The fact that Robert encouraged us to look beyond the obvious, what had already been written or said about Leonard’s decision to get back on the road, was a huge gift.

POV: But was it strictly fair use that you get to use k.d. Lang, Steven Page, etc.?

Both: No, oh no.

POV: Beyond Leonard, you have access to everything. I spent most of the movie, again, cynically thinking, “I guess they didn’t get k.d. Lang,” and then boom at the end, I’m like, “Of course, what a perfect space for that to be.” It’s literally her culmination.

DaynaG: And you don’t need her to say anything.

DanG: But we had to license everything. Access is different from licensing. We had an agreement where we paid the Cohen trust money, as one should, for access to some of these materials. We’re also going to give them all of the raw footage, all of the raw transcripts for scholarly research down the road.

DaynaG: What Robert Kory has said now several times when we’ve done joint Q&As is that had Dan and I come to Robert and Leonard in 2014 and said, “This is what we’re going to do, and we’re going to end up not just using ‘Hallelujah,’ but we’re going to use 22 other songs from your catalogue,” he feels pretty sure they would have turned us down.


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Re: Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine

Post by MarieM » Fri Jul 22, 2022 2:19 pm

HALLELUJAH: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song opens today, July 22, in new cities throughout the United States. It also opens in Canada in cities in Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia.

US/Canada schedule: https://tickets.hallelujahfilm.com

The film will also premiere at the Jerusalem Film Festival this weekend and next week at the New Horizons Film Festival in Wroclaw.
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Re: Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine

Post by Wybe » Fri Jul 22, 2022 9:27 pm

by Citizen_Kane » Thu Jul 14, 2022 12:18 pm

MarieM wrote: ↑
Tue Jul 12, 2022 9:26 pm
European and Australian dates coming.

Very much looking forward to the announcement of the European dates!
Thanks, Marie, for all the updates.

Kind regards,
Hi Citizen Kane,
We seen the wonderful documentary last year in Amsterdam.
https://www.idfa.nl/nl/film/dbd11c27-42 ... ney-a-song

But we would like to see it again.

Wybe
2008 -- Brugge, Amsterdam, London, Berlin, Helsinki, Oberhausen, Rotterdam -- 2008
2009 -- Antwerpen, Venice, Barcelona .-- 2009
2010 -- 2 x Gent, Lille, 2x Las Vegas, -- 2010
2012 -- Gent, 2 x Amsterdam, Dublin, Verona -- 2012
2013 -- Pula, Rotterdam -- 2013
-- +++ https://www.icantforget.nl -- +++
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Re: Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine

Post by MarieM » Fri Jul 22, 2022 11:49 pm

While many of us wait to see the documentary, here's something to keep us occupied. SONY is producing a podcast about the film and Leonard in general.

"The #HallelujahFilm podcast is live! Go behind the making of the film and the legendary artist and song that inspired it. Hear from members of @ColdWarKids, @Old97s, @mountain_goats, @TheJudyCollins, and archival interviews with Leonard Cohen himself."

https://linktr.ee/hallelujahfilm
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Re: Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine

Post by MarieM » Sat Aug 06, 2022 4:08 am

More dates for the screening of Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song have been added beginning August 5 for both the United States and Canada. Check out the schedule: https://tickets.hallelujahfilm.com/

Here's another great review:

https://www.thewrap.com/hallelujah-revi ... ard-cohen/

The Wrap

‘Hallelujah’ Film Review: Documentary Explores the Mysterious Beauty of Leonard Cohen Through That One Song

Venice Film Festival 2021: Cohen’s most-performed song is the jumping-off spot for Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine’s film openhearted about the late singer

Steve Pond | September 2, 2021

Like the blind men of lore groping to understand an elephant by focusing on a tail or a tusk or an ear, filmmakers have tended to approach the late singer, songwriter, poet and novelist Leonard Cohen in bits and pieces. Lian Lunson looked at his career through the lens of a 2005 tribute concert in “Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man,” Tony Palmer’s “Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire” was a long-lost chronicle of a single European tour in 1972 and Nick Broomfield’s “Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love” is as much about Broomfield’s own relationship with one of Cohen’s muses, Marianne Ihlen.

And now there’s Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine’s “Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, a Song,” which premiered at the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals on Thursday. It purports to be about a single Cohen song – the single Cohen song in the eyes of the masses, I suppose – though it ends up encompassing far more than that.

The song, of course, is “Hallelujah,” a 1984 meditation that moves with ineffable grace and can be read as an uplifting hymn to the spirit, a wry paean to the flesh or a combination thereof. It’s a bottomless song that begins with the lofty and seemingly reverent proclamation, “Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord that David played and it pleased the Lord” and then punctures it with an immediate punchline: “But you don’t really care for music, do ya?”

Written by Cohen during a rough stretch in his career, then reworked by John Cale, who had access to the 100-plus unused verses Cohen had written for the song, “Hallelujah” is routinely and solemnly trotted out at big events and on televised singing contests; it’s thornier and funnier than most of those renditions let on, but it has survived and prospered maybe because it’s so easy to underestimate.

“Hallelujah” the film, though, is here not to underestimate “Hallelujah” the song, but to bask in it, to explore it and to use it as a jumping-off point to explore Leonard Cohen himself. More so than the 2012 book that inspired it, Alan Light’s “The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley and the Unlikely Ascent of ‘Hallelujah,’” it looks well beyond the song to the man who wrote it, which makes it both less focused and less repetitive.

In fact, the first hour of “Hallelujah” isn’t much about “Hallelujah.” After some concert footage from 2013 and the song’s original music video from the 1980s (how young and callow Cohen looks, even though he was in his 50s at the time!), the movie sinks into history – how Cohen, a Canadian poet and novelist, turned to writing and (reluctantly) singing songs in the late 1960s.

The early stretches can be a bit scattershot, but they also offer rich details, as in a sequence about Cohen’s Judaism set to the haunted “Who By Fire,” a listing of ways to die inspired by a 13th-century poem used in the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur liturgies.

The film focuses on some albums (“Songs From a Room,” “New Skin for the Old Ceremony”) and skips over others (“Songs of Love and Hate,” “Recent Songs”), and then finds its key moment at the beginning of its second half, when Cohen records the essential “Various Positions” album but has it rejected by Columbia Records chief Walter Yetnikoff, who died in August of this year. The album contained not just “Hallelujah” but also “Dance Me to the End of Love,” which opened nearly every one of Cohen’s concerts for the rest of his life, and “If It Be Your Will,” a prayer every bit the equal of “Hallelujah” – but Yetnikoff said no, so it ended up being released first in Europe, then on a small indie label in the U.S.V

And “Hallelujah,” which emerged after years of writing and an estimated 150 different verses, didn’t take on a life of its own until John Cale recorded it for a Cohen tribute album in 1991. Cale asked to see the verses Cohen didn’t use and created a new version of the song; he used Cohen’s first two verses and then replaced the original record’s final two verses with three others he found in the notebooks. “I did the cheeky verses,” says Cale, more comfortable singing about sex than religion.

(For all the talk of those hundreds of verses, virtually every other recording of the song has used some combination of Cohen’s four original verses and Cale’s three additions; we glimpse some of the others in notes that are shown on screen, but they haven’t been recorded.)

Cale’s version turns out to be a breakthrough for “Hallelujah” mostly because Jeff Buckley included his own take of it on his “Grace” album in 1994, which brought the song to an entirely new audience. And after Buckley – and a subsequent use in “Shrek,” of all places – the floodgates opened, for good and for bad.

While the good includes k.d. lang’s majestic rendition that ends the film, a montage of versions from various singing competitions is scary enough that you understand why Cohen himself once half-heartedly called for a moratorium on performances.

The film doesn’t turn into a chronicle of who performed “Hallelujah,” which was the weakest part of Light’s book; instead, it veers back into biographical territory, following Cohen’s resurgence with the “I’m Your Man” album, his years in a Zen retreat on Southern California’s Mt. Baldy, the loss of nearly all his money at the hands of a crooked business manager and his subsequent triumphant return to the road, where his remarkable concerts were seen by enraptured audiences around the world.

The result is an affectionate and open-hearted tribute to Cohen and his work, with an emphasis on the one song that might lure in the occasional uninitiated viewer. The song “Hallelujah” may be the way into Cohen’s world, but that world is far richer and more singular than any one song, and the filmmakers are looking for the big picture here.

Does the film explain “Hallelujah?” Of course not – the song stubbornly resists explanation, because it’s so many different things and because there’s a beautiful mystery at its heart. “Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song” is smart enough to embrace that mystery and that beauty, and to know that there’s far more to Cohen than can be summed up in four, or seven, or even 150 verses.



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Re: Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song,” Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine

Post by LisaLCFan » Sat Aug 06, 2022 4:45 am

MarieM wrote:
Sat Aug 06, 2022 4:08 am
More dates for the screening of Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song have been added beginning August 5 for both the United States and Canada...

Thank you so much for posting this! And, Hooray!!! It is playing in my city next week -- I've just booked tickets! Can hardly wait! :D
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