Top image: still, ‘Only God Forgives’ (2013) dir. Nicolas Winding Refn
Better known for his high contrast neon-soaked visuals, memorable soundtracks and uber-stylish minimalism, Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (Only God Forgives, Drive, The Neon Demon) is expanding his repertoire this June by curating a, “festival of Americana and country music” taking place in Eridge Park, Kent.
Black Deer Festival, which only began last year, is at its heart a celebration of a certain Americana spirit – a way of life that orbits the quintessentially American pastime of sitting ’round a fire to the sound of country classics, where the smokehouses of America’s Deep South lace the air and vintage chopper motorcycles are sold like ranch cattle.
This year, as part of an exclusive UK festival partnership with byNWR.com, the site launched by Refn in 2018 to showcase restored archive films, a trilogy of specially-curated works will hark back to the days of drive-in cinemas and early Americana. Forty Acre Feud (1965), Wild Guitar (1962) and Cottonpickin’ Chickenpickers (1967) have been selected to deliver this moment of zeitgeist, with one being screened on each of the festival’s three nights.
This year’s music line-up sees a typically comprehensive cross-section of Americana sound, from acoustic blues noodling to expansive desert rock. Like the cast of a spaghetti Western: from long-haired, heavily bearded outfits to feather donning country acts and wizened, working man blues players that look as though they’ve been plucked from the back of a smoke-filled saloon – the sounds at Black Deer are as authentic as they come. Headlined by Band of Horses, the line-up also boasts the likes of Brant Bjork, Larkin Poe, John Butler Trio and eminent country star Kris Kristofferson.
Alongside the film and music, there will also be custom motorcycle workshops, artisans and makers and authentic smokehouse cooking.
Speaking on his website last year, Refn emphasised that this was his vision to uncover films lost to the tide of digitisation with the intention of inspiring a new generation of cinephiles. “What we’ve created is not a film, TV, fashion, photography, lifestyle of political site. It’s an installation, an online museum inclusive of everything. There’s a movie presented each month, but that film is merely the jumping off point. it’s the seed to inspire creativity, provoke a state of mind”.
Tickets for Black Deer Festival, taking place June 21-23, as well as information on the line-up can be found online here.