A new documentary will bring the music of the Avett Brothers to a new medium in a special film screening at the Gateway Film Center on Tuesday.
Directed by Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio, “May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers,” intimately documents the life and music of the North Carolina band.
“I really want people to go see the movie and I really want them to see it in theaters,” co-director Bonfiglio said. “There’s an emotional component to a theatrical experience through a shared group experience that I think really works incredibly.”
The film is a one-night event showing at select theaters across the country, however the Gateway Film Center will also hold an encore screening on Thursday.
“Due to the overwhelming response for the initial screening, we worked very hard to book encore screenings for ‘May It Last,” said Scott Vezdos, Gateway Film Center’s director of marketing, in an email. “GFC is the only theater in Columbus in which you can experience this event, so it’s crucial for us to make all welcome and accommodate all of our guests when possible.”
“May It Last” follows The Avett Brothers in the course of two and a half years, beginning in 2014, centering on the lives of frontmen and brothers, Scott and Seth Avett, as they record their most recent album “True Sadness.”
However, Bonfiglio said “May It Last” is not actually about the making of the album. In fact, when Apatow and Bonfiglio started filming, they weren’t sure they were making a film at all.
“We thought maybe we were making a short piece, we thought maybe it could be a pilot for something where we profile other artists,” he said. “We really didn’t know. As the first year of filming progressed, we kind of realized, ‘OK, I think we have to go all in here … there’s something really special about these guys,’ but we hadn’t really figured out what the movie was about yet.”
Bonfiglio also said that among the things that make The Avett Brothers special are their “electric and spectacular” live shows and their “incredibly brilliant” ability to express their emotions and their authenticity.
“I think the fact that they haven’t tried to have a hit is one of the things that keeps people coming back … It’s what’s really coming out of them as human beings and as artists. It’s not manufactured,” he said.
Bonfiglio attributed the film’s authenticity to the small film crew and the fact that his co-director Apatow — the director and producer of films such as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “This is 40” — was paying for the film out of pocket.
“We were able to have the same people on every shoot over the course of 2 ½ years,” he said. “We all got to know each other as people. Judd was paying for it himself so we were answering to no bosses. It was incredibly freeing and I think that’s kind of the approach those guys take to their music.”
The film was the South by Southwest 24 Beats Per Second audience award winner in 2017. Bonfiglio said he believes the film is a “feel-good movie” that will interest audiences that don’t know anything about the band.
“A lot of people who didn’t know anything about this band, who had never heard of them, have seen the film at a couple of festivals now and the feedback that I’ve gotten is like, ‘I didn’t care that I didn’t know who they were,” Bonfiglio said. “I was just drawn to them as people and to their story and the movie made me feel good.”