It's About You Documentary To Premiere At SXSW Film Festival March 12th Official Press Release


Kurt Markus, whose work as a still photographer has put him in the front ranks of contemporary American visual artists, is the visionary filmmaker behind It’s About You. The film will premiere as one of the featured selections chosen for the 2011 SXSW® Film Conference and Festival on Saturday, March 12th at the Alamo Ritz 1 at 6:30 PM followed by a Q+A session with the filmmakers and John Mellencamp thereafter. It will also screen on Sunday, March 13 at 1:30 PM at the Rollins Studio Theatre in the Long Center For The Performing Arts. It’s About You, An American Documentary Showcase selection, will be featured at the Nashville Film Festival next month.

Shot in Super 8 during the course of John Mellencamp’s six-week 2009 summer tour with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. It’s About You chronicles the recording of No Better Than This, Mellencamp’s T Bone Burnett-produced album at three historic locations utilizing a single microphone and a mono tape recorder more than a half-century-old. This film is far removed from the conventions of standard-issue “rockumentaries” and serves as a think piece about the battering of American society by globalization and greed and the transitory nature of its cultural touchstones. Markus was assisted in the project by his son Ian Markus, now a film student at the University of Montana. The filmmakers participating in a panel discussion entitled “The Making of It’s About You, A Super 8 Documentary” at the Austin Convention Center Room 13AB that starts at 5 PM.
Father and son followed Mellencamp to 26 cities in 18 states where they documented not only Mellencamp’s musical performances but also the context of these shows as economic upheaval and diaspora have changed American lives and landscapes. The film conjoins Mellencamp’s songs with images of a nation wracked by malaise and decline with contemplative narration written and voiced by the elder Markus. It’s worth noting that Mellencamp’s journey is the film's leitmotif but that the artist is never specifically interviewed; there are virtually no “talking heads” seen or heard in the naturalistic piece. This is not a retrospective film with interviews. It is of the moment.

The film visits the nation’s past through the prism of Mellencamp’s historically resonant recording venues: The First African Baptist Church in Savannah, GA where runaway slaves were hidden on their journey to Spanish-controlled Florida and to Sun Studio in Memphis where Mellencamp stood where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Howlin’ Wolf had before him. A recording session in Room 414 of San Antonio’s Gunter Hotel with Mellencamp in the same corner of the room where blues legend Robert Johnson had recorded “Come On In My Kitchen” and “Cross Road Blues” among others more than 70 years earlier is another highlight of No Better Than This.

Markus’ extraordinary vision and focus on the American West has earned him critical accolades over the course of his 35 year long career in photography that has seen his work published in Vanity Fair, GQ, Rolling Stone, Travel and Leisure, New York Times Magazine, Outside, Esquire, Texas Monthly, Entertainment Weekly, Vogue and Best Life as well as overseas outlets. He was recipient of Life Magazine’s Alfred Eisenstaedt Photography Award for his contribution to Rolling Stone Magazine’s “Sports Hall of Fame” feature. He was one of a select group of photographers chosen by Rolling Stone to contribute a special portfolio in celebration of the magazine’s 25th anniversary. He has undertaken commercial assignments for Armani, BMW, Sony, Levis, Calvin Klein and Nike.
Markus, who was born in Montana and still lives in that state, made his mark in landscape, figure study, celebrity, fashion and travel. The Cowboy Hall of Fame, Hills Gallery, Halsted Gallery, Staley-Wise Gallery, Gallery have mounted exhibitions of his work for Contemporary Photography and Galleria Photology. Markus published several monographs, including After Barbed Wire, Buckaroo, Dreaming Georgia, Boxers, Cowpuncher, and Dune.

Staley-Wise Gallery in New York and Photology in Milan represent Kurt Markus’ work.
It’s About You
..a visual soundtrack with John Mellencamp on stage and in session through America
Directed photographed and edited by Kurt Markus and Ian Markus
Music by John Mellencamp
Written and narrated by Kurt Markus
Produced by Little b Pictures
Running time: 79 minutes