“It Would Not Let Me Be,” a documentary film that follows Baltimore’s own Caleb Stine and the Brakemen as they record their 2015 album “Time I Let It Go,” will be getting its public world premiere at next month’s American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs, Calif.
Although the full lineup for this year’s festival has yet to be announced, Baltimore director Michael Patrick O’Leary’s 68-minute black-and-white film must have made quite an impression on the selection committee. Its selection was made official last week, well in advance of the lineup announcement.
“I am excited to have it out there with a more critical audience, to put eyes on it and get some good, honest feedback,” said O’Leary, who lives in Hampden. He screened the film once last year, at the Maryland Institute College of Art, for an audience made up mostly of friends and associates.
Festival director Teddy Grouya wrote in an email that O’Leary’s film “not only represents all that is good about documentary today (production value, intriguing characters), but it offers a fresh approach to the inner-workings of a popular musical group as they compose music and prepare for the release of a new album."
“We receive many, many films on music and more specifically, individuals or groups who have bands,” Grouya wrote. “It is a rare day that we actually program such films unless they have something going for them -- this film does.”
Stine, who’s known O’Leary since his college days back in the ‘90s, said he’s very happy with how the film turned out. “It’s a beautiful collection of images,” he said. “I can’t imagine opening up to anyone else. This film could not have been made by anyone else.”
“It Would Not Let Me Be” was shot in winter 2015 at a converted barn studio in Townshend, Vt. Stine and the Brakemen had reunited after a seven-year hiatus, and the film follows them as they both write and record “Time I Let It Go.”
“At the core of it, the content is very much these guys making the album — about them getting back together after a long hiatus and making this album,” O’Leary said.
But, he adds, his film tries to address larger questions, about art and artists. It explores, he says, the questions of “why they make art, and who they make it for — that’s what interests me most about these guys, about any artists.”
The film’s website refers to it as “a story about art and the big questions that artists ask themselves. What happens when you step back and view music as a necessary vehicle of expression? A spiritual pursuit of truth? A tool to master communication within our culture, within a band, within ourselves?”
Said Stine, “It’s a good exercise in Zen mindfulness.”
This year’s fifth edition of the American Documentary Film Festival is set for March 30-April 4.