Amir Bar-Lev Talks 12-12-12 Concert Doc

The co-director of  The Weinstein Co’s. 12-12-12 doc discusses the historic concert at Madison Square Garden that raised $50 million last year to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy: the camaraderie and community and cross-generational pairing of icons with younger musicians (Eddie Vedder joining Roger Waters to sing “Comfortably Numb”). The all-star lineup includes Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Chris Martin, Michael Stipe, Adam Sandler, Eric Clapton, Jon Bon Jovi, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Kanye West, and Billy Crystal.

What was this like for you?

The story for me in a way starts when I moved to New York from California not long after 9/11. You could still see such a powerful display of generosity and collective purpose. I was struck how New York was different from the mythology of a place that only cares about itself. So I was very excited when I got this job to not only document some of  my favorite musicians together but also a nod to that espirit de corps that I don’t think New York gets enough credit for.

So we knew from the beginning that we wanted to approach the concert from an egalitarian point of view. We knew that more people are interested in Mick Jagger than from someone from the sanitation department. But we did our best to give them all of the above, to elevate the everyday heroes and to humanize the super celebrities to level the playing field. 

Talk about the origin of this with Charlie Lightening, who specializes in music docs.

The story there is we started off making two films. Inevitably there was tension between our two productions. And confusion: Why are we making two films? It finally erupted the morning of the concert and we went from continually arguing with one another to hugging and deciding to make one film.  That was something that never happened to me before. So he did a lot of the interviews and we did a lot of everything else. But it wasn’t so strict. I did a few celebrity interviews and worked with his crew and he did the same with mine.

What were the highlights for you?

A standout was watching the performers enjoying each other’s performances. But one of the most powerful moments for me was something that Governor Cuomo said. Instead of leaving the argument at what a wonderful  job New Yorkers do about taking care of one another, tonight should also be about the recognition that climate change is upon us and a thing that is going to happen again and again. We have to be forward thinking.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Movies, Music, Trailers

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