“There are so many people with so much talent, original thinking and unique voices. Most of them weren’t born with the ‘right cards in their hand’…What are the chances that we will hear about them?”–filmmaker Ido Haar.
Israeli director Ido Haar made sure that one of those “unique voices” had her chance by heralding her story and, most especially, her voice in his latest film, Presenting Princess Shaw. The feature-length documentary, which gave its star–and the Israeli artist who discovered her–welcome exposure on the festival circuit and in theatrical release last year, makes its broadcast debut on the PBS series POV tonight, Monday, July 17, 2017, 10:00 – 11:30 p.m. ET. (Check listings for air times and repeat broadcasts in your region.)
With her cherry red hair, braces and engaging spirit, Samantha “Princess Shaw” Montgomery brought a little song and dance into the lives of the elderly residents under her care in a New Orleans nursing home. She also shared her considerable vocal and songwriting talents, personal heartache and career aspirations with followers of her YouTube channel. She invited them along as she performed during open mic nights in dismal local clubs and derailed yet another audition for NBC’s “The Voice.” Despite the roadblocks and loneliness, she never seemed to lose her hope or enthusiasm for the next adventure around the corner or the upcoming gig that could put her career aspirations over the top.
Meanwhile, 7,000 miles away, on a kibbutz in Israel, musical prodigy Ophir “Kutiman” Kutiel was making a name for himself in international music and art circles with audacious audiovisual mixtapes or musical mash-ups he created from audio and video snippets culled from amateur performances on YouTube. By turning “sampling” into multimedia art, Kutiman’s talent is uniquely driven by the Internet and social media. His work has been exhibited and performed at venues like the Guggenheim Museum in New York City and on stage at Israel’s National Theater, garnering such kudos as “the future of music” and “the Internet’s new frontier.” You can check out his work at http://www.youtube.com/kutiman
Kutiman discovered Princess Shaw’s singular voice, confessional songs and personal revelations on YouTube. He was captivated… and you will be too as you experience clips of her haunting songs in Presenting Princess Shaw, sung a cappella with a voice reminiscent of Amy Winehouse and Alicia Keys, and are privy to the memory fragments that litter her back story with broken relationships, poverty and a childhood darkened by physical and sexual abuse.
The film climaxes with her discovery that Kutiman has featured clips from one of her YouTube solos as a centerpiece in one of his own compositions and posted it on the Internet. With heart in hand, she travels to Israel to meet Kutiman and perform on stage at Israel’s National Theater as his video composition unfolds on screens behind her.
Although there are questions left unanswered in Presenting Princess Shaw about her career prospects going forward and Kutiman’s back story and degree of personal and financial involvement with Princess Shaw and other amateur performers, past and present, the film showcases two unique talents in a style that befits them–open-ended, eclectic and, above all, celebratory–as their voices, hearts and skill sets unite across cultures.
“When an extraordinary artist recognizes another from across the world, and their talents come together,” concludes director Ido Haar, “it brings the idea of collaboration and creativity to a whole new level.” And let’s face it, were it not for the Internet and social media, this story would probably not have a beginning, middle or… such an uplifting ending.
Presenting Princess Shaw makes its broadcast debut on the PBS series POV tonight, Monday, July 17, 2017, 10:00 – 11:30 p.m. ET. (Check listings for air times and repeat broadcasts in your region, as well as On Demand and DVD availability and http://www.pbs.org/pov/princessshaw/ for streaming updates.) –Judith Trojan