CHOPS Opens at the Charles!

ChopsStarting Friday, September 11, CHOPS (MFF 2007) will begin its run at The Charles and we have an exciting weekend of appearances on the first weekend!

Starting with the Friday evening times and continuing through Saturday and Sunday, each showing will be hosted by director Bruce Broder as well as people from the film!


Each year, Jazz at Lincoln Center and its artistic director, Wynton Marsalis, host the prestigious Essentially Ellington Festival, a competition of the absolute best high school jazz bands from across the country. The film follows Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, a public art high school in Jacksonville, FL as they compete with elite bands from all over the country at the Festival in New York City. Inspired by the entire community of jazz
musicians, the students humbly recognize the honor of carrying on the legacy of the masters. Jam-packed with outstanding performances, CHOPS will make you admire the dedication of these teenagers as they proudly watch the culmination of their hard work: an electrifying festival performance where the students realize that no matter how much one prepares, sometimes life, like jazz, calls for improvisation.

CHOPS is a Bruce Broder film produced in association with Winnercomm, Inc. and thanks to Jazz at Lincoln Center.
CHOPS invites audiences to view the action from a number of different seats in the house: as students, as parents, as jazz aficionados, as fans of competition…and for those of us luckyto be New Yorkers, as proud hosts who may not have entirely understood what goes on
inside Jazz at Lincoln Center’s home, Frederick P. Rose Hall, also referred to by Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis as The House of Swing.

CHOPS began rather modestly from the parental perspective of Bruce Broder, a Florida advertising guy who one day left work early to see his son Owen participate in a Jazz class when Owen was in middle school.

“The language and the analogies the teachers used to get the concepts of Jazz and of improvisation across to these 11 and 12 year old kids was amazing to me,” Broder recalled recently. “And in a really discernable way, you could see that the kids were just loving it. They were hooked.

“So I started following a small group of kids, including my son, who were part of the middle school jazz combo. The original idea for the movie was to cover them as they made the transition from middle school to high school. I knew they would be facing a far less nurturing, far more competitive environment. And I was interested in how they would deal with their love of music and jazz in the midst of the twin emotional hurricanes that are high school and puberty.

“I was fascinated with the idea that at the same time they were working on their jazz chops, they were also working out what their personas would be, on and off stage.”

As with all nonfiction films, the movie Broder wanted to make would depend on how much access his subjects, in this case his son, his friends and his school, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Florida, would grant him. Broder remembers well what he calls an early “back off” conversation with his son.

“Owen had started high school and I was on his case about study habits, practice habits, the usual stuff. He had made the top band at middle school, and All State band, and he had earned the right to say ‘leave me alone.’ I viewed him very much as a young artist declaring, ‘I’m going to take control of this now.’ As a parent, you have to figure out how much you are going to be involved in certain aspects of your child’s life.”

It was during his “back off” conversation that Broder the filmmaker also asked his son how he felt about being filmed – by his father – at school and at band practice.

“That’s just my cross to bear,” Owen, then twelve, told him.

“For certain of the kids, there was a noticeable attraction to having the camera around,” Broder explained recently. “They could all see where it was pointed. But the kids who turned out to be the focus of the movie are the kids who were comfortable being in front of it – the ones who actually enjoyed it – and I think this is something the audience can feel,” Broder says.

%d bloggers like this: