The new Elliott Smith documentary, Heaven Adores You, traces his life and music in a way previously unseen. Producer Kevin Moyer and Elliott’s friend, James Clark, join us to share behind the scenes stories of the music, his life and we uncover a hidden gem: a song written and performed by a then fourteen year old Elliott!
ELLIOTT SMITH: MAKING EVERY MINUTE COUNT
NW Film Center and the Reel Music Festival
A remarkable documentary, Heaven Adores You is really a love song to Elliott Smith. To his music and to his life. A meditation shaped by observations of friends and fellow musicians, it opens a door of incredible intimacy into an artist and being who seemingly balanced between an unexpected sense of humor and very deep and sometimes dark observations.
Kevin and James dropped by the studios to share some stories in person with Dennise and myself, and to go a bit deeper inside both the way Elliott approached his songwriting and actual music construction. At approximately the 32:00 mark, don’t miss a song Kevin unearthed for us. “Ocean”, he says, very likely was the first time Elliott put lyrics to music in his then band. 14 years old, still in Texas.
Even if you are only vaguely aware of Elliott Smith, this visually rich in detail film will be a great introduction. It’s not too late to get into his music.
The film opens in 1998 — a year in which Elliott receives an Oscar nomination for his song “Miss Misery” for the Gus Van Sant film “Good Will Hunting,” and his album “XO” receives mainstream airplay — an interviewer from Dutch TV inquires about his recent declaration that he’d never be a rock star. Elliott thoughtfully replies, “I’m the wrong kind of person to be really big and famous…”
What kind of person was Elliott Smith? Since his death in 2003, many media-makers have attempted to tell the story of his creative “sad-sack” genius, often through the lens of struggle, heartache and addiction. Director Nickolas Rossi employs a different lens, placing music center-stage, creating a framework for Elliott to narrate the story of his life himself, through the filter of recorded conversations and interviews, with support from friends along the way. With great care, Rossi expertly weaves together 30+ interviews to create an intimate and personal history like never seen before.
Beginning in Portland, we’re treated to Rossi’s stunning cinematography with a gorgeous aerial view of the lush landscape. Photographer and friend Autumn de Wilde and official archivist Larry Crane discuss how the Oscar nomination affected Elliott, with Autumn noting, “I wanted more people to hear his music … but it changed a lot of things for him.”