Bill Frisell: A Portrait

Directed by Emma Franz

Starring Bill Frisell

An intimate, behind-the-music portrait of one of the most unassuming yet influential creative artists of our time, guitarist Bill Frisell. Frisell said of the film, “It’s like the inside of my brain!”


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  • ★★★★ review by Marc on Letterboxd

    Bill is my hero. It’s delightful to see heaps of praise about an actual creative genius for a change. The doc itself is maybe a little shallow, but a ton of performance footage and face-time with Bill makes up for that.

  • ★★★★ review by Yer No Bergman on Letterboxd

    A lot of music I hear is more like a technical exercise. You can go for a walk in the woods and not see a thing and just go for a walk.Or you could go for a walk in the woods and see all this beautiful nature and things around you.And that comes in and out in your music. Bill is one of the few cats on the scene today that has such beautiful qualities about expression and peacefullness, and he lets that come through.

    I love Jim Woodring and Jim Hall, and John Zorn, and this guy's hanging out with all of em.

  • ★★★½ review by spitballarmy on Letterboxd


    [streaming, Amazon Prime]

    Bill Frisell is a marvel. This documentary shows this by creating, however awkward, a balance between performance footage, talking head testimonials, and ample interview segments with the man himself. A couple of decades ago, I was given a bootleg CD recording of Bill talking about his work and life and was fascinated by it: he has a unique, quiet way of speaking - with unusual pauses in the middle of sentences or words, sometimes seeming surprised at hearing his spoken words, as if the guitar was his preferred method of communication, or a complete shift of direction before e v e n t u a l l y returning to the original topic at hand - much like his music, with its unpredictable harmonics that end up always making sense and bringing you back around to the starting point (like most of the best jazz). While watching this, I really enjoyed comparing the rhythms of his speech to his musical stylings, as they are both glimpses into his thought process. Recommended to Frisell fans and novices alike, and anyone who enjoys witnessing the creation of art on the fringes of the mainstream.

  • ★★★★½ review by Feroz on Letterboxd

    This docu was incredibly inspiring to me. The way Bill Frisell approaches music is so open, free of judgement, and as someone in the movie put it, "elastic, or like rubber." I totally agree. For me, he's one of those guitar players that never seems to fight the instrument. He and his guitar always seem to be in a state of harmony, even when in great /musical/ tension. I also especially liked the bit where they re-approached some of his sketches from years past in a trio format... it just goes to show how interesting his random ideas are. Working on understanding Jim Hall as well as he does :P. I love this guy and his expansive body of work! The documentary itself wasn't formally great, though, had to dock 1/2!

  • ★★★★½ review by julabug59 on Letterboxd

    Discovered while browsing SXSW winners 2017. Excellent documentary in tribute to a fascinating, brilliant artist. Reveals much about his sensitive nature and the power it brings to his music. We're listening now!

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