'Low Movie (How to Quit Smoking)' explores relationship between filmmaker and band

Duluth indie rock mainstays Low.
Courtesy of Sub Pop Records

A new movie about the Duluth-based band Low will premiere tonight at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival.

"Low Movie (How to Quit Smoking)" follows the 20-year history of the band, which is led by Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker.

The film is shot and directed by Philip Harder who's been making videos and short films with Low throughout the band's career. Morning Edition producer Jim Bickal discussed the movie with Harder who says it is not a documentary.

"This is more of a document," Harder said. "There's a short introduction we put into the film that starts to explain our relationship. And that's about as 'documentary' as it gets."

Harder said the finished movie is much more than a collection of all the videos he's made with the band since the mid-1990s.

"We started to realize ... the story is really not only the history of Low, you actually watch them get older year after year after year, but it's also the relationship between Low as musicians and myself as a filmmaker," Harder said.

The filming has been a challenge. One the early shoots was set on Lake Superior, and Sparhawk slipped on the ice and knocked himself out.

"They came up with this idea in minimalist Low fashion. 'We just want to push a boat around on frozen Lake Superior,' " Harder remembers them saying.

"In the end, I though it was a disaster. But when I put it all together and just slowed down the edit, it became a one-of-a-kind look, I think," he said. "It sort of defined who Low were at that point."

The film follows the band through all their changes of style and personnel, up to their latest release, this year's "The Invisible Way." The band also recently performed at The Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.

Click the audio player above to listen to the full interview.


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