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An Australian Jazz Drummer’s Search for Musical Shaman in Korea

Intangible Asset Number 82, a documentary film by Emma Franz, portrays the musical and spiritual journey of Simon Barker

Emma Franz, director of Intangible Asset Number 82
Poster of documentary film Intangible Asset Number 82
Kim Seok-Chul
Simon Barker
Bae Il-Dong singing at falls
Kim Seok-Chul and Simon Barker

For drummer Simon Barker, it all started with a tape of Korean music that a friend had given him. The Australian jazz musician was floored by the sound on the tape and was particularly captivated by the drummer, whose herky-jerky rhythms spoke to Barker. That tape sent Barker on a quest to not only find that drummer, but also to reinvent himself as a musician. Filmmaker Emma Franz documented Barker’s musical and spiritual journey in a fascinating documentary called Intangible Asset Number 82. The film has been featured at film festivals all over the world and will be available on DVD later this year. And the film will be shown at Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, New York on Thursday, May 27, 2010.

A musician herself, Franz was looking for a subject that could express how she felt about music from her own travels with it and “could demonstrate it as the universal language that it is by finding a narrative that people could perhaps connect with on an emotional level – as opposed to just ‘telling’ people, which many films do.” She initially got involved with the project when she was in a recording session with Barker, who told her that he was looking for a shaman. “He started to describe what he had been doing, taking trips to Korea, and I thought that it would be an interesting journey,” explains Franz. “I knew if a thirty-something jazz musician and an eighty-something Korean shaman could meet, a connection would happen through music, and that connection could beautifully illustrate what I was trying to express due to the fact that they were from such disparate walks of life and with no language in common.”

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