The movie poster for "Presenting Princess Shaw"

Presenting Princess Shaw

I saw this movie last night at the Meadowridge Library in Madison, and it was fan-TAS-tic: inspiring with a capital ‘I.’ It was playing as one of the Wisconsin Film Festival’s pop-up screenings. Check it out–just be prepared to shed a tear or two.

Princess Shaw holding a wine glass
Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Film Festival

Here’s the synopsis from the film festival’s page:

Two musicians on opposite sides of the globe create miniature pop masterpieces in this awe-inspiring documentary.  Not only has the duo never met—one of them doesn’t even know their collaboration is happening.

A true sonic wizard, Israeli artist Kutiman conjures rich soundscapes entirely from YouTube videos of random musicians improvising. Plucking a riff here and a beat there, he assembles these minutely edited clips into mind-blowing pop songs.  He becomes fixated on the diary-like videos of Princess Shaw, a black nurse in New Orleans who writes heart-stopping ballads sung in a smoky voice guaranteed to raise goosebumps.

Princess Shaw dreams of making it big, but her natural gifts go unnoticed at empty open mic nights and dismal reality show auditions. Though indomitable by nature, she can’t seem to catch a break, and is beginning to feel like nobody can hear her. But across the world, Kutiman is listening, crafting sensuous backing tracks to her a capella vocals.  When he uploads his version of her songs, we are there for the delirious moment that Princess Shaw realizes she’s gone viral.

As close as life can get to a fairy tale, this magical cross-cultural collaboration will have you singing along in your seat.


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