Description from TIFF 2011 catalog by Thom Powers:
This past May, Neil Young brought his solo tour to Toronto’s Massey Hall, an iconic venue in the city of his birth. Jonathan Demme was on hand to capture the two nights, which highlighted new songs from the album Le Noise, produced by Daniel Lanois, mixed with classics like “Ohio” and “I Believe in You.” At sixty-five, Young retains a youthful vitality and musical curiosity that balances his wisdom and experience. It’s no wonder he’s been an inspiration to the likes of Pearl Jam and Sonic Youth. In Neil Young Journeys, Demme intersperses the Massey Hall concert footage with brief scenes from a road trip through Ontario. Driving a 1956 Ford Crown Victoria, Young visits the rural town of Omemee, where he spent a key part of his formative years, and reminisces about his former neighbours and their daughters. As he drives past bulldozers transforming the landscape, he remarks, “It’s all gone&”8230; it’s still in my head.”
For Mavericks, Young and Demme will present the world premiere of Neil Young Journeys in the splendid Princess of Wales Theatre, followed by a live conversation. Demme previously filmed Young performing in Nashville, the year after the musician survived a brain aneurysm, for the documentary Neil Young: Heart of Gold. Their second collaboration was Neil Young Trunk Show, memorializing a Pennsylvania concert during the tour for his album Chrome Dreams II. Young’s repertoire is so vast that none of the songs in those previous films overlap the selections featured in Neil Young Journeys.
At Massey Hall, Young shares the stage only with a wooden statue of a Native American as he moves between two pianos, an organ and several guitars, acoustic and electric. The songs are full of intense, poetic imagery. In one haunting number, “You Never Call,” he pays homage to his late friend Larry “L.A.” Johnson, who ran Young’s film company, Shakey Pictures. And in “Love and War,” he offers a kind of summation of his whole career: “Since the backstreets of Toronto/I sang for justice and I hit a bad chord/But I still try to sing about love and war.”
About the director:
Jonathan Demme was born in Baldwin, Long Island. His prolific career has included the films Caged Heat (74), Melvin and Howard (80), Stop Making Sense (84), Something Wild (86), The Silence of the Lambs (91), for which he won the Academy Award&”174; for best director, Philadelphia (93), The Agronomist (03), Neil Young: Heart of Gold (06), Rachel Getting Married (08), Neil Young Trunk Show (09), I’m Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad, and the Beautiful (11), also at this year’s Festival, and Neil Young Journeys (11).