Two 2006 films paying tribute to American folk pioneer Harry Smith will be rereleased on Apple TV on September 8th.
The first, The Old, Weird America, is a 2006 documentary that traces the life and career of Harry Smith, the eccentric folklorist, filmmaker, artist and record collector best known for 1952’s 84-track canon-defining Anthology of American Folk Music. Compiling archival footage and interviews, the film includes appearances from everyone from Beck and Sonic Youth to Philip Glass and Elvis Costello.
The second film, The Harry Smith Project Live, chronicles a series of tribute concerts to Smith’s Anthology produced by the late Hal Willner. The concert film features performances from Lou Reed, Nick Cave, Richard Thompson, Steve Earle and more. Both films were directed by Rani Singh, who worked as Smith’s assistant until 1991.
“He was irascible, brilliant, funny as hell,” Singh said in a 2010 interview. “And [he] could jump from one disparate subject to another — talking about some ethnographic review of 1927 to discoveries in Tierra del Fuego in the 1600s to Jimmy Cliff’s The Harder They Come. His range of references and the way he made those connections were mind-boggling. It left you spinning.”