Archive of films A Bookshelf on Top of the Sky / A Bookshelf on Top of the Sky

2002, 82 min

Section: 2003: A Musical Odyssey
Year: 2003

A film which takes a close look at the legend of post-modern music, composer John Zorn, and gives valuable insight into the New York scene.


This is the first ever documentary to take us inside the world of a unique figure in post-modern music – the New York composer, saxophonist, publisher and spirit of the New York independent scene John Zorn. German fine artist Claudia Heuermann also finds a true solution to the task of portraying a frenzied, intense musician whose treatment of all manner of musical styles continues to acquire surprising new forms. Zorn will combine jazz with punk and speed metal, then he’ll decide to write a piece of serious music. Cobra, a “tactical exercise” for a group of improvisers, is not written down, with Zorn using the piece to sustain the oral tradition. Elsewhere in his work, he brings out his Jewish roots: with his band Masada (who performed in Prague in 2000) he seeks Jewish musical inspiration from the Holocaust. The director traces the many paths of his career (the film includes appearances from e.g. Bill Laswell, Mike Patton, Bill Frisell, Fred Frith, Dave Douglas and Ikue Mori) and allows herself to soak up the Zorn formula which she transfers to the film media. Zorn: “Sincerity is what’s important. Therefore I don’t do anything which would make it “different”. I play even the strongest of hardcore because I sometimes feel it’s right”.

About the director

Claudia Heuermann studied fine art and design (1985-1989), and subsequently film (1990-1993). Apart from films, she has also created multi-media installations. She was involved in the making of the document Nico-Icon. In 1997 she captured the New York “radical Jewish culture” scene in her film Sabbath in Paradise, awarded at the festival in Nyon. Her latest film, Bookshelf on Top of the Sky, screened at Karlovy Vary this year, won prizes in 2002 at the festivals in Nyon, Munich, Montreal and Florence. 


Claudia Heuermann
Hilblestrasse 38, D - 80636, Mratín
Tel: +49 89 123 2880
Fax: +49 89 123 2880

About the film

Color, BETA SP

Section: 2003: A Musical Odyssey
Director: Claudia Heuermann
Screenplay: Claudia Heuermann
Dir. of Photography: Rainer Hartmann
Music: John Zorn
Editor: Claudia Heuermann
Producer: Claudia Heuermann
Cast: John Zorn, Claudia Heuermann, Mike Patton, Ikue Mori, Fred Frith, Marc Ribot, Joey Baron, Dave Douglas, Greg Cohen, Bill Laswell
Contact: Claudia Heuermann


Claudia Heuermann


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