A respected jazz drummer’s search for an enigmatic Korean Shaman becomes a rite of passage,
as he is inspired and transformed by the journey.

 

Looking back now,
I don’t know how I lived like that.
But I believe in reincarnation,
and I believe I was born with this destiny.

– Bae Il-Dong (Korean Pansori singer, recalling the seven years he spent living by a waterfall learning to sing)

What lengths will people go to for their music? How do they discover the tools of self-expression and develop an individual voice? Where does the calling come from? What does it mean to be a musician in modern times?

Australian singer Emma Franz explores these themes through the final stages of friend and colleague Simon Barker’s seven-year search for enigmatic Korean shaman, Kim Seok-Chul. Believing the shaman to be one of the world’s great, though largely unknown and undocumented, improvising musicians, Simon had committed to find and learn from the shaman. Yet despite his official designation as South Korea’s 82nd Intangible Asset, Kim Seok-Chul remained elusive. After seven years of setbacks and obstacles, and with the shaman now in his eighties, Barker’s commitment has intensified and he returns to Korea for a seventeenth time.

As they travel together through Korea, Franz casts a sensitive eye on Barker, revealing the inspirations and transformations that led him to become one of the most persuasive and individual voices in drumming today.

Meaningful practical and philosophical encounters with charismatic and exceptionally dedicated artists become a rite-of-passage, leading Simon to the shaman under portentous circumstances.

As Simon and the artists who have become immersed in his journey discover their growing influence on each other, they move naturally towards collaboration. The archetypal ‘hero’s journey’ becomes a layered story of the heroic yet humble music practice of all the main characters, providing intimate insight into music as a valuable tool for personal transformation and bridging cultural divides.

Intangible Asset No. 82 debuted at the Sao Paulo International Film Festival in Brazil, where it was a finalist in the Audience Vote for Best Documentary. The film went on to win BEST DOCUMENTARY at the Durban International Film Festival in South Africa, BEST SOUND IN DOCUMENTARY at the 2009 AFI Awards Australia, and was voted runner-up for Most Popular Documentary at the Melbourne International Film Festival. It has screened in competition at some of the worlds most respected film and documentary festivals, including AFI SilverDocs and South By South West in the U.S.A., Hot Docs in Canada, and others in places as diverse as Argentina, Japan, Chile, China, Korea, India, Egypt and Israel. It was shortlisted for the Cinema Eye Honors in the U.S.A.

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What people are saying about INTANGIBLE ASSET NUMBER 82:

“Absolutely profound, visually, musically and otherwise…everything about this story and the way in which it was told and presented was truly miraculous. Absorbing and inspiring!” – Laurence Donohue-Greene (Editor of The New York City Jazz Record, formerly AllAboutJazz-New York)

“Intangible Asset Number 82 is a classic that will be here after we are all long gone.” – David Amram (Composer, Conductor & Multi-Instrumentalist)

“Intangible Asset #82 is one of the best music documentaries I’ve seen: Beautifully shot and recorded, but more importantly, a compelling and insightful narrative that explores music-making across cultures that captures the warmth of a buddy/road film which builds to an emotionally affecting climax.” – Bill Bragin (Public Programmer, Lincoln Center, NYC)

“Intangible Asset Number 82 is inspiring, fascinating and engagingly shot, a meditation on cultural relativism and the spiritual power of music to unite people from radically different backgrounds. It opened my eyes to another facet of the cross-pollination taking place in the melting pot art form known as jazz.” – Aidan Levy (Jazz writer Village Voice, Jazz Times)

 

“Like all great narratives, this one is complex and multilayered, and its presentation is reflective of the improvisational spirit of the music that you hear in the film. – Tom Staudter (Music Writer, New York Times, Downbeat)

“The idea of music as a universal language may be a well-worn truism, however few films manage to demonstrate the phenomenon so plainly and with such impact as Franz’s Intangible Asset No. 82. This is a beautiful film, as emotionally affecting as it is sonically and visually stunning – a truly unique and inspiring documentary.” – Brett Ham, Broadsheet Magazine, Melbourne

“Emma Franz uses a wonderfully varied, artful and personal style to capture the many aspects of this journey, Baker’s quest will probably resonate with artists in any form, struggling to connect their work to their deepest natural impulses.” – Jim Terr, KUNM-FM Radio, New Mexico

“This is a wonderful, 1-of-a-kind film… The point is very well-made here that music is a universal language, and that if any of us want to see for longer distances, we would do wisely to climb up the backs of those who are masters of their crafts.” – Drumscene

“The insights into musical expression and Barker’s genuine humility with the people he meets that make this memorable.” – Paul Kalina, Sydney Morning Herald

“Intangible Asset No. 82″ shows us that art occurs at the intersection of deep knowledge and compassion, where human self-knowledge is at one with the natural world.  In a world where tangible assets are constantly being measured and compared, “Intangible Asset No. 82″ gives the viewer a visible demonstration of a musician seeking and achieving transformative oneness.  It is indeed a profound and moving film.”
– Yo-Yo Ma (Cellist and educator, multi-Grammy Award winner)

 

“Intangible Asset Number 82 is a fantastic film. A look into a world I never knew existed. Totally inspiring. It blew my mind. Thank you.”
– Bill Frisell (Grammy Award winning guitarist)

 

Franz has skillfully combined two perspectives into a multi-narrative, multi-perspective on a journey. She is doing for documentary what Robert Altman did for fiction film. It is a ground-breaking and exciting shift in the usually mono perspective of the hero’s journey.”
– Catherine Gough-Brady, REALTIME

 

“Intangible Asset no. 82 gives us the rare pleasure of witnessing a world of true musical love and commitment. From Australian jazz giant Simon Barker’s quest for expanding his musical and personal universe, to the tale of the Korean shaman drum master Kim Seok-Chul whom he sought out, Emma Franz weaves a tale that is both classic and of our time. In this secret world of visionaries and spirits, a new story unfolds that shows us that today’s musical community is as strong as it’s practitioners beliefs are.”
– Greg Cohen (bassist; Ornette Coleman group, John Zorn’s Masada Quartet, Tom Waits)

 

“Wow… this film absolutely blew me away! Even if you’re not a drummer, or musically inclined, there is an important message in this film for you, too. I cannot recommend this documentary enough! Awesome! And then some…”
– Austin Daze

 

“A complex musical and cultural exploration that taps into the spiritual essence of an art form.”
– Indiewire

“The film is well crafted and uses imagery of vast landscapes, both natural and human… It is incredibly stylish and has a sophistication rarely seen in early works.”
– Screen Hub, Australia

 

“Intriguing debut feature by budding documaker Emma Franz. The climactic meeting with visibly frail Kim Seok-Chul is genuinely affecting.”
– Joe Leydon (Variety Magazine)

 

“This is documentary making at its finest, and is a film well worth seeking out. 4 and ½ stars”
– John Lampard (disassociated.com)

 

“A fascinating trip from the very first stop. 4 and ½ stars.” – Jay Seaver (efilmcritc)

 

[Intangible Asset Number 82] blew my mind away. It takes the viewers on the journey, involving them more and more. I found it quite fabulous, moving and unexpected.”
– Paul LePetit (Film Critic, Sunday Telegraph)

 

“[Franz] is clearly a dedicated documentarian, with the ability to suss out narrative in a complex story.”
– Katie Alderman (Walrus Magazine, Canada)

 

“A very deep and unique film, [Intangible Asset Number 82] manages to capture those slight but significant moments which are so difficult to portray in cinema.”
– Ryota Kotani (NHK, Japan)

 

“The film was so full of love and energy for music and people, it left me sitting overwhelmed for a while. But the virtue that this film carries transcends to all spheres, whether you are a music lover or not. The beauty of human potential when you have faith in what you do and strive to better yourself, this intangible beauty is the true asset and power that moves our world. This is the intangible lesson this film shows without ever preaching.”
Cho Sung-Eun (Film Critic, Korea)

“A masterly conceived and filmed documentary, ‘Intangible Cultural Asset No. 82′ represents a beautiful balance between an educational document and a moving human drama.”
– Dr. Nathan Hesselink (Ethnomusicologist, University of British Colombia)

“Sensitive, confident, but also demonstrating a deeper understanding of music, and the creative process in general. So many discussions on Art today focus on what and how art is being done, but Franz manages to go beyond this to ask a more important question – why.  Why is music an essential part of life? The film deals with this without implicitly telling us the answer. We discover it through a kind of participation which all art initiates; a participation of the viewer. It is beautiful and inspiring.”

– Rafi Segal (Architect, Author)

 

“In my opinion, it may be the most profound film of its kind that we will ever show on the channel.”
– Michal Shapiro (Link TV, U.S.A.)

 

“Intangible Asset 82 has deeply touched me ever since I saw it for the very first time. Beyond words, the film dives into the mixing pot of cultural diversity, bringing to the audience a wonderful insight into the similarities and synchronicities of different cultures through the unique and most universal language of music. Thru the eyes of director Emma Franz, we can feel that believing in art and intuition is still one of the best roads one can take.”
– Rodolfo Stroeter (Music producer, award winning Bassist with Gilberto Gil, Joyce, Tutty Moreno and others)

 

“It’s not often we’re given an opportunity to experience life and music through the eyes and ears of people who perceive them so utterly differently from the way we do ourselves but Emma Franz’s film tries to make it possible—and succeeds admirably.”
– Bill Leak (painter, cartoonist, writer; excerpt from review in Extempore Jazz Literary Journal)

 

“In the true tradition of transformative filmmaking, Emma Franz has documented an artist’s personal odyssey that results in a universal cultural epiphany. Intangible Asset Number 82 is that rare work of alchemy where the power of music and film combine to transform character and transport an audience through art.” – Richard Lorber (Kino Lorber)

“A sublime ending.” – Chris Knight (National Post, Canada)

 

The long waited appearance of Kim Seok-Chul has more impact than that of Marlon Brando’s in ‘Apocalypse Now’.”
Cho Sung-Eun (Film Critic, Korea)

 

“[Intangible Asset Number 82] had a flow that resonated with the subject matter in a most glorious fashion… Incredibly entertaining on its own, [the film is] also a special gift for those who are wise enough and aware enough to grasp its import.”
– Dony Wynn (Drummer; Robert Palmer, Steve Winwood, Patty LaBelle)

“In life, the journey itself is more fundamental and fulfilling than the destination, and this tenet has rarely been more transcendently demonstrated than in Emma Franz’s magnificent documentary Intangible Asset No. 82… By the time Bae and Kim Dong-won join Barker and his band for a terrific impromptu performance at a local park, the film has succeeded well beyond its origins as an eclectic road documentary. However, the best is yet to come, and though it would be imprudent to reveal the nature of the resolution to Barker’s original mission, suffice to say that it serves as the most fitting final movement to this remarkable cinematic symphony, at once surprising and inevitable. Regardless of its title, Intangible Asset No. 82 promises to reward the audience with numerous tangible pleasures.”
Phillip Maher (AllMovie.com)

 

“Franz does an incredible job. Her lighting (mostly natural) is beautiful and her images are powerful. She is able to capture a singer perched on a waterfall and a private shamanic ceremony, both difficult circumstances under which to film, and disappears into both scenes easily so that the audience feels like its participating in the action… I found myself totally captivated by Barker’s journey and Franz’s strong imagery.” – Ellen Spiro (University of Texas)

“[Intangible Asset Number 82] is a testament to the power of music and mysticism.”
– Justin Mover (Washington City Paper)

 

By posing questions about why music matters, Franz’s film becomes a philosophical investigation as much as it is a showcase of fascinating musicians rarely heard outside of Korea. A great tribute to the universal language of music.” – Guelph Festival of Moving Media