Houston Matters

How a Texas composer’s music helps bring to life a century-old film

Justin Sherburn will perform his live music score to the 1929 silent documentary film “Man with a Movie Camera” on Sept. 7 at The MATCH.


A still image from the 1929 silent documentary “Man with a Movie Camera.”


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In 1929, a silent documentary called Man with a Movie Camera offered a portrait of urban life in Russia at the time. Real-life citizens are shown living their daily lives in a film that was filmed as a propaganda but is noteworthy for the innovative cinematic techniques director Dziga Vertov employed.

A Russian woman sweeps in a scene from the 1929 documentary “Man with a Movie Camera.”

The film will be screened Sept. 7 at The MATCH featuring a new musical score by Texas-based composer Justin Sherburn. He’s the artistic director of the Austin-based chamber music group Montopolis, which will perform the music live.

In the audio above, Sherburn tells Houston Matters host Craig Cohen about the experimental film, which had no real story and no actors, and how he tries to use his music to subvert the film’s initial intention as propaganda. He says Vertov’s film, mixed with his music, really brings the individual people featured on screen to life in a new way.

The pair also discuss Sherburn’s Austin-based business, Rocket Cinema, which rents inflatable movie screens for outdoor presentations.

MORE: Watch the full original silent film

Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Craig Cohen

Craig Cohen

Executive Producer & Host, Houston Matters

Craig Cohen is the executive producer and host of Houston Matters, which airs weekday mornings at 9:00 on Houston Public Media, News 88.7 FM. Craig is a 20+ year veteran of broadcast journalism. He's spent the bulk of his career in public media, in roles ranging from programmer and manager,...

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