Magazine article Screen International

Voyage of Discovery: 'Presenting Princess Shaw'

Magazine article Screen International

Voyage of Discovery: 'Presenting Princess Shaw'

Article excerpt

After screening at the 31st Jerusalem Film Festival in front of rapt audiences, Presenting Princess Shaw became one of the year's buzz Israeli titles.

The film follows Kutiman, the Israeli music producer hailed as a "musical mash-up genius" for the 'Thru You' YouTube musical compilations he stitches together from dozens of home clips by amateur musicians and singers, and, separately, his latest anonymous subject Princess Shaw, who was being followed around New Orleans by Israeli documentary maker Ido Haar.

The origins of Presenting Princess Shaw came when Kutiman showed Haar some early work from his latest project, which featured Princess Shaw.

As the two men conferred, an idea for a documentary focusing on anonymous musicians using YouTube to express themselves emerged, although the scale of the project was originally much broader: "There were six female singers from around the world that Kutiman was sampling, and the idea was to find out about these women and tell their stories," says Haar.

But on a separate trip to the US, Haar decided to go film Princess Shaw, and was instantly taken with her story. "We met in my hotel with her friend because they were afraid, like, 'Who is this guy coming from Israel?'," he laughs. "But from the first moment we met, I felt there was something there."

Drawn to Shaw's straight-to-camera soul-baring on YouTube, which revealed a hard-luck life and years of sexual abuse at the hands of her mother's boyfriend, he was struck by "how open and true to herself she was. I was a little jealous. Everybody's so in control and there's something so free about Princess. It caught me."

Haar carried on meeting other potential subjects for the film "but there was something about Princess, I kept wanting to go to New Orleans."

As far as Shaw was concerned, she was simply taking part in a documentary about avid YouTubers. She had no idea that while Haar was following her around New Orleans and Atlanta, on the other side of the world Kutiman was making her a-cappella singing and original song 'Give It Up' the centrepiece of his latest music-video project.

Waiting and waiting

When Kutiman decided he was ready to release the song, Haar knew for its unveiling he needed to be in Atlanta, where Shaw had moved to check out the local music scene. …

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