The Club Tavern in Middleton recently played host to the first major public Guitar Hero competition in the Madison area last week. This Playstation-aided pastime is nothing compared to the might and majesty of the air guitar, however, that relatively ancient art of karaoke with one's hands.
Like many iconic totems of rock, the art of air guitar playing comes complete with its own set of stars and an annual world championship. This realm of nimble hands and costumes that go up to 11 are the subject of Air Guitar Nation, a new rockumentary screening at the 2007 Wisconsin Film Festival.
More specifically, the film follows the paths of two virtuosos -- C-Diddy (David Jung) and BjÃrn TÃroque (Dan Crane) -- rivals in the inaugural U.S. Air Guitar Championships in 2003, itself merely a stepping-stone to the worldwide throwdown in Oulu, Finland. "Make Air, Not War," is the motto for both the competitors and the film, a showcase of the one of the more hilariously bizarre forms of improv.
What are a few of the songs getting some air action in the documentary? They include: "Ace of Spades" by MÃtÃrhead, "Cherub Rock" by the Smashing Pumpkins, "I Want You to Want Me" by Cheap Trick, "Heroes" by David Bowie, "More than a Feeling" by Boston, and "We Are the Champions" by Queen, among others originally performed with guitars by The Darkness, KISS, The Hives, The Bags, Judas Priest, The Donnas, Extreme, The Who and David Lee Roth.
The documentary was directed by Alexandra Lipsitz, a producer for Project Runway who shot the film a year before the reality show landed on Bravo in 2004. The winner of audience awards at the 2006 editions of South By Southwest and the Traverse City Film Festival, Air Guitar Nation has also screened at the Tribeca and Edinburgh International film festivals, and slated for national release later this spring.
Air Guitar Nation is scheduled to screen twice at this year's festival, a certainly appropriate choice for this well-received film. A trailer for the documentary follows below.
There are many other videos pertaining to both the film and art of air guitar available for viewing online. These include a 129-second mini-doc about the air guitar afterparty following the film's screening at last year's Tribeca Film Festival, a clip of Michael Moore introducing the film at the Traverse fest, a look at TÃroque strumming to the tune of "Ace of Spades," and a five-minute profile of the air supremacy wrought by C-Diddy.
The Wisconsin Film Festival is scheduled for Thursday, Apr. 12 through Sunday, Apr. 15. Tickets go on sale on Saturday, March 17.