Hot Docs 2023 Review: July Talk: Love Lives Here

by Andrew Parker

Part profile and part concert film, July Talk: Love Lives Here looks at what happens when a band best known for touring and high-intensity, spontaneous live shows is forced to pivot towards something a lot more uncertain and meticulous.

Obviously, director Brittany Farhat and members of the band July Talk are broaching the topic of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how in its early days live music suddenly up and died for awhile. It wasn’t the best of timing, as the band was set to release their latest effort, Pray for This, just as the world was falling apart and struggling to crawl out of a bunch of different holes. Normally, they would play around 300 shows to promote an album, but without that luxury, July Talk plans a pair of ambitious drive-in theatre shows in the summer of 2020 where patrons will be able to socially distance.

July Talk: Love Lives Here is really three types of documentaries in one. First and foremost, it’s about the creation of a show taking place in uncharted territory for all parties involved during uncertain times. Watching the nuts and bolts preparation of such an endeavour is something to behold, as are the safety measures put in place by a band that strives to always create a safe space for fans (and, to a different extent, for co-lead singer Peter Dreimanis, whose diabetes is starting to take a more noticeable toll on him). The second film is a straightforward biographical detailing of the band and what they’re about, designed to appeal to the uninitiated. The third is footage from the concert itself.

While a bit more focus on one specific area over others might help the flow of Farhat’s film, July Talk: Love Lives Here does a good job of capturing the band’s unique aesthetic and relationships. The drive-in show contrasts starkly with archival footage of pre-COVID concerts, with honking horns and flashing hazard lights taking the place of screaming hordes and cell phone flashlights, but the performance is top notch, and the odd setting suits the band’s new direction. Farhat’s decision to shoot predominantly in black and white also leads to some striking images, particularly during the performances towards the end.

July Talk: Love Lives Here might appeal most to fans, but there’s a lot of fascinating detail in here about trying to make it as a band that’s pretty much locked into a single place. They care a lot, and the film cares about them in return.

Friday, May 5, 2023 – 9:00 pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Join our list

Subscribe to our mailing list and get weekly updates on our latest contests, interviews, and reviews.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

You may also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. Accept Read More