Cinema of the Ozarks live score event to benefit Ukrainian relief fund

What’s old has been made new again thanks to the orchestral rock stylings of Montopolis, an Austin-based group, which specializes in multimedia performances that marry music with cinema.

Saturday the group presents its ground-breaking original musical score to the 1929 Ukrainian documentary “Man With a Movie Camera” along with a screening of the film at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Arkansas Public Theater at Rogers. The event benefits Ukrainian relief efforts.

Justin Sherburn leads the chamber outfit in what the “Austin Chronicle” describes as a stunning hour-long score to the silent film that offers an eye-opening historical context to the Russian invasion, celebrates the beauty and resilience of Ukraine’s people, and lays bare the costs of the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe.

“We are thrilled to host Justin and Montopolis in this worthy cause to raise awareness for the plight of the Ukrainian people, using the cinema arts as a medium to educate and uplift humankind,” said Jason Murphy, Executive Director of Cinema of the Ozarks.

Merchandise sales from the charity screening and live musical performance , not including concessions, will be donated to UNICEF to support crisis relief efforts in the region. Tickets for the screening and live musical performance are $12 plus tax, and can be purchased at Doors open at 6 p.m.

Montopolis’ performance of the score recently received a standing ovation from a sold-out crowd at the Alamo Draft House in Austin, according to the “Austin Chronicle,” for the sextet’s moving performance.

Sherburn, Montopolis’ composer, is the grandson of Romanian immigrants, and has a personal connection to the culture and history of Eastern Europe. His original score incorporates indie rock, extended techniques, and traditional Ukrainian folk melodies.

The Soviet regime commissioned the documentary at the behest of Joseph Stalin to spotlight the power of its industrial resources in the cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Odesa.

However, Sherburn’s heart-wrenching yet romantic score belies Stalin’s intent, transforming the nationalistic propaganda piece into a celebration of the human spirit.

The score emphasizes the humanity of the Ukrainian people over the industrial prowess of the Soviet Union.
Sherburn called the composition “an exercise in the power of music to undermine a film’s intention,” according to material provided by Cinema of the Ozarks.

The event is just one planned by the Cinema of the Ozarks intended to “expand the horizons of moviegoers and lovers of the cinema arts in Northwest Arkansas and the surrounding area,” according to Murphy.

Murphy said the Cinema of the Ozarks’ role in the Northwest Arkansas community is to curate and present a wide array of programming that features thought-provoking new releases from Hollywood, as well as independent studio films, documentaries, repertory series, and foreign films that people here rarely, if ever, have had the opportunity to see on the silver screen.