Originally inspired by the Bowlie Weekender with Belle and Sebastian in 1999, All Tomorrow’s Parties has turned into something of a global phenomenon – albeit in a cult-ish sort of way, an experience like no other, and now an experience that has made it on to the silver screen with ATP: The Film. Those interested in ATP tend to be so in a very dedicated fashion and as such, much of the material in this film has been compiled using footage taken by over 200 musicians, fans and filmmakers; leaving the lucky editor with about 600 hours to sift through and whittle down to 80 succinct minutes that captures the spirit of the festival. Which the film duly does.
Opening with footage of Butlin’s as a holiday camp in the 1950s the collage is then cut with footage of festival revellers until the images blend together to become one live set. If you are adverse to the militant indies and all that posturing you may have your doubts about this film, but fear not for the characters portrayed are all warm, funny and entertaining, whether that be fan or rock star. The film features numerous live sets from some of ATP’s most loved performers and curators including The Gossip, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Grinderman, Sonic Youth, Battles, Grizzly Bear, Slint, Animal Collective, John Cooper Clarke, Fuck Buttons and Patti Smith among others.
Between the live footage there are countless anecdotes and cameos from rock n roll’s finest players and much of the film is given over to footage of fans moseying around the chalets en masse as dawn breaks, looking for the next party before sleeping it off and getting up to go knit with Kim Deal, or play rocknroll bingo, or just spot their heroes wandering around like they are part of the audience. Because that’s what it’s like at ATP, and that’s exactly how it’s revealed in this film.