Trimpin: The Sound of Invention
A film by Peter Esmonde
Selected by Carl Spence, artistic director, 35th Seattle International Film Festival (May 21 – June 14, 2009)
This film is a wild ride through the universe of Trimpin’s creative genius. He’s a composer who constructs idiosyncratic, one of-a-kind instruments he needs to create his music, like this giant marimba ensemble that converts real-time earthquake data into music. Director Peter Esmonde follows him as he designs, scavenges, builds and investigates an outrageous range of materials. It’s not just some dry overview of the artist — it follows the life of an artist over two years, while he builds a sixty-foot tower of self-tuning guitars, collaborates with the Kronos Quartet and designs a perpetual-motion sculpture. Hell, Trimpin is a perpetual-motion sculpture.
He’s very wary of being filmed, because journalists have burned him before, treating him as some kind of wild man and not taking his art seriously. Peter does, and as a result Trimpin comes off as a really accessible, down-to-earth guy who happens to be a celebrated, inspiring genius. Esmonde was trained at Yale and was an MFA directing fellow at AFI. This is his first feature documentary. We’re proud to have it at SIFF.
— Carl Spence
Trimpin, born in Germany’s Black Forest, is a MacArthur “genius” award-winning composer and sculptor working in Seattle since 1979.
Peter Esmonde, a former Discovery Channel producer, was converted from literature to film by his charismatic Yale professor Michael Roemer, whose Toronto, New York and Sundance film festival hit The Plot Against Harry was produced by Seattle media baron Stimson Bullitt.