Mark Kidel is a leading documentary film-maker, writer and critic specializing in music and the arts. He works mainly in the UK, France and Germany. Projects for 2011-2012 include films about the painter and architectural artist Brian Clarke, and portraits of the American composer John Adams and British musician and songwriter Elvis Costello. His most recent films include “Set the Piano Stool on Fire”, a two-year chronicle of the relationship between piano giant Alfred Brendel and his young pupil Kit Armstrong, “Saved by Music: The Wallfisch Family”, which looks at the impact of Auschwitz on three generations of musicians, and “Soweto Strings” which tells the story of a remarkable music school in a South African township.
The unusually wide range of subjects explored in his films reflects an approach to documentary that his driven by personal interest and passion. With cultural roots in Paris as much as in England, his work cannot easily be pigeonholed, although a number of recurring themes and concern run through the process of continual exploration and reflection that has nourished his practice.
Some key films include “So You Wanna Be a Rock’n’roll Star”, “Rod the Mod Has Come of Age” (about Rod Stewart), “Kind of Blue”, an essay on melancholia, made with the American writer James Hillman, “New York: The Secret African City”, with the Africanist Robert Farris Thompson, “Something Rich and Strange: The Life and Music of Iannis Xenakis”, “Balthus the Painter”, “Boy Next Door” (about Boy George), “Naked and Famous” (about the black musician Tricky), “Free Will and Testament: The Robert Wyatt Story”, “Alfred Brendel: Man and Mask”, “Lessons of a Master: Leon Fleisher”, “Under African Skies: Rai”, “Ravi Shankar: Between Two Worlds”, “Les hôpitaux meurent aussi” (“A Hospital Remembers”), and “Hungary 1956: Our Revolution”.
Over the years he has worked with a number of different production companies, notably Les Films d’ici and Agat Films in Paris, as a guest producer-director with the BBC and more recently through his own production company, Calliope Media. He has also co-produced a number of projects with French companies.
Mark Kidel has written widely, mostly about music, for many of the national newspapers, as well as for various weeklies. He was the founder rock critic of the New Statesman and a regular contributor to The Listener.
He was a co-founder with Peter Gabriel of the world music festival WOMAD.