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What happened at Michelberger Music Festival

Bon Iver was there, along with Damien Rice, Aaron and Bryce Dessner, My Brightest Diamond, Mouse on Mars, Kings of Convenience, The Staves, two Alt-J members, and so many others. More than a hundred musicians gathered in Berlin for the most amazing, crazy, free spirit festival you can imagine. We were there too, and we brought back some great videos.

We still all remember when, on the first day, after a quick visit of the Funkhaus, we let all those prestigious musicians – coming from the UK, France, Peru, Norway, the US to play together – take possession of the place, the studios and the auditoriums of the former east-German radio. They weren’t too overconfident. We could feel a mix of astonishment and excitation floating around those massive empty halls, dusty rooms and labyrinthine corridors – just like what you feel before jumping in the deep end of pool for the first time as a kid. Those musicians were there to create, to collaborate freely, and basically, to do whatever they wanted, and none of them knew what to do at the time. To be honest, we didn’t really know what we were filming either.

We were there thanks to Tom and Nadine, the owners of the Michelberger hotel. They had decided to launch a unique festival, Michelberger Music based on a very simple thing: inviting 100 artists for a week at the hotel so they could work together to create a 2-day festival unlike any other during which the shows would be the result of a week of collaborations. Justin Vernon, the Dessner brothers, Vincent Moon, Tom and Nadine were in charge of inviting all the musicians and leading them all. And it worked perfectly.

Past the astonishment, this week was magical. The more it was going on, the more the old concrete walls of the Funkhaus were getting thiner, thanks to the multiple creative bubbles that were exploding everywhere in the building. Here, The Staves were improvising harmonies to go with a new Kings of Convenience song. There, Damien Rice was on rehearsal with a choir of 30 people. In a little room, an old Czech viol player was jamming on some loops created by Thom and Joe from Alt-J. The collective Stargaze was playing strings for whoever wanted them to, whether it was Poliça, Shara Worden or the rappers from Kill the Vultures. Under a tree, Erlend Øye was teaching an italian song to a bunch of musicians sat in the grass…

During the festival, the audience had no idea what they were going to see. Thirty of them would watch the Dessner brothers delicately sewing the tracks of the next National album ; a hundred of them would see Vincent Moon showing his footage of some sacred rituals while Senyawa was playing ; 500 people would sat on the floor in a huge auditorium, facing Bon Iver and a choir. This unique week was all about surprising, collaborating and sharing unexpected moments, and we got lucky enough to film it. Jeremiah, Colin Solal Cardo, Aelred Nils, Thomas Rabillon and Ilan Cohen ran everywhere, going from one room to another, to get the footage we are now so proud to show.

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