Guess what? You can now pre-order the Father the Flame DVD on Amazon.com!! For those of you who’ve had a chance to see it, we’d love it if you left a review because it helps increase visibility on Amazon.
These will ship June 18th.
For the digital release on iTunes and Amazon, mark your calendars for June 4th!
By DANIEL WANSCHURA • DEC 18, 2018 • MICHIGAN RADIO •
Just off U.S. Highway 41 outside of Marquette, there’s an old man who lives alone in a small, one-bedroom house. Most days he’s upstairs sitting at his desk or downstairs in his workshop. There he makes some of the best tobacco pipes in the world.
“My name is Lee Erck. I am a tobacco-smoking pipe maker. I live here in Negaunee Township,” he says on a cloudy Friday afternoon.
Lee is 78 years old. He’s sitting in his living room, smoking a pipe. A lamp fills the small space with a warm, incandescent glow. Pipes are all over the place — on every surface. Lee says there’s at least 100.
“I didn’t start to be here,” he says. “All of a sudden, here I am.”
Where Lee happens to be, is among the best pipe makers of all time.
“I definitely put Lee in the master of pipe category,” says Allan Boyd, president of the Chicagoland Pipe Collectors Club. Every year, Boyd’s club hosts the largest pipe show in the world.
“In my opinion, Lee’s probably in the top 15 or 20 pipe makers — period,” Boyd says. “Alive or not.”
By KYLE SANDERS • OCT. 17, 2018 • CHIRP RADIO •
This month CHIRP volunteer Kyle Sanders is attending the 2018 Chicago Interntional Film Festival and reporting on what he discovers there…
In a world of “fake news,” it’s refreshing to see a resurgence of documentaries. Be it a study of an influential icon such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Fred Rogers, or the shocking yet true string of incidents that lead to Three Identical Strangers, 2018 has seen several releases of high-profile documentaries making huge gains at the box office. At this year’s Chicago International Film Festival, over twenty entries were included on the roster, including (due to festival restrictions, the following are “cluster reviews” only):
Father the Flame: The history of the pipe is a tale as old as time. This documentary introduces us to Lee Erck, a craftsman from Michigan who discusses his legacy of sculpting pipes to perfection, using briar wood imported from Tuscany, which connects us to other family histories combining tradition and artistry. What begins as one person’s love of the pipe, turns into an epic that travels the globe and spans centuries.
By MIGUEL RUIZ • OCT. 17, 2018 • LOYOLA PHEONIX •
“Father the Flame” is the documentary audiences never knew they needed to see.
Premiering Oct. 12 at the Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF), director Chad Terpstra and master pipemaker Lee Erck take viewers on a visually stunning journey chronicling the timeless legacy of the tobacco pipe.
Terpstra brilliantly contests the widespread tradition of pipe smoking being one for the ages with beautiful cinematography and an engrossing story that’ll intrigue even the most reluctant viewer.
The Phoenix had the chance to sit down with Terpstra and editor Scott McCambridge, along with stars Erck and Italian briar cutter, Mimmo.
“I wasn’t interested in making a film about pipes at any point,” Terpstra said. “It was just like ‘oh pipes are great, but let’s leave it at that. We stumbled into the idea a little bit.”
While the film’s premise is simple, there’s much more boiling beneath the surface.
By EDITOR • OCT. 13, 2018 • THE TIMES WEEKLY •
This documentary is a love letter to pipes. To non-pipe smokers all pipes look and seem alike. The truth couldn’t be more different. Men and women in myriad cultures have smoked since earliest times, for pleasure as well as to access the spirit world. Aficionados and artisans/creators are a worldwide community, a many branched family. Mr. Terpstra introduces a number of them, but his main focus is master pipe creator Lee Von Erck who lives and works in Nauganee, Michigan. And for whom pipes are his family. Mr. Terpstra’s love letter follows him around the world as he discusses his craft, chooses wood —briar comes from the white heath tree, crafts pipes and helps his customers choose the right pipe and tobacco that will be the most satisfying for their individual tastes. His works of art are pricey, but they are passed down from generation to generation.
By DS • OCT. 12, 2018 • CINE-FILE CHICAGO •
Chad Terpstra’s FATHER THE FLAME (US)
Friday 10/12, 6:30pm and Sunday 10/14, 11:30am
Chad Terpstra’s loving tribute to Michigan master pipe maker Lee Erck and the peculiar niche of smoking pipe obsessives is an utter joy even for those (like myself) who have no interest whatever in the subject. It is a story that touches on Native American, European, and Asian traditions and involves much rumination on craft, spirituality, and community. The quest for the perfect briar wood suitable to make a pipe which will outlive its maker and be passed on and cherished by future generations of smokers seems quixotic, a little bizarre, and often touching, all at the same time. Terpstra can even be forgiven some of the over-the-top graphics which liken the embers and smoke emanating from a pipe to the formation of the universe—he has obviously fallen hook, line, and sinker in love with this weird little subculture and it’s all I could do to keep from falling for it as well. Terpstra and Erck are scheduled to appear at both screenings. (2018, 78 min) DS
By DAVID J. FOWLIE • OCT. 11, 2018 • KEEPING IT REEL
The Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF) kicked off last night for the 54th time with “Beautiful Boy”, a harrowing biographical drama from Belgium director Felix van Groeningen (who was in attendance to discuss the film) which follows a father (Steve Carell) determined to help his opioid-addicted son (Timothée Chalamet). But don’t worry, the film will open in Chicago on October 19th and is bound to earn some Oscar nominations for acting. The annual festival, which continues through October 21st, is once again making its home at AMC River East 21, which will arguably become an epicenter for film enthusiasts. As expected, there will be an assortment of films from other countries, as well as some that were locally shot – some have already been picked up by studios, while others await distribution which means this may be the only time to see certain films.
Strangely, the festival’s length is three days shorter than last year and, looking at its schedule of 123 features, it’s also 23 films less than last year.
By KYLE SANDERS • OCT. 11, 2018 • CHIRP RADIO •
Movie critic Roger Ebert put it best when he said “We are put on this planet only once, and to limit ourselves to the familiar is a crime against our minds.” It’s a quote I’ve unknowingly followed for years, specifically when it comes to movies. I love movies. And when you’ve seen as many films as I have, you tend to venture outside your comfort zone and search beyond the familiar to find a flick you’ve never seen before. Personally speaking, that which is unfamiliar to me are foreign films.
Of course, I’ve seen many of the classic international motion pictures that every film studies course recommends as essential viewing: The Grand Illusion, Seven Samurai, La Dolce Vita, Black Orpheus, Raise the Red Lantern and so on and so forth. But just like today’s new releases of American cinema, who’s to say what current foreign films will end up a classic? This is why each year during the month of October, I look forward to the Chicago International Film Festival.
By MATTHEW NERBER • OCT. 11, 2018 • THIRD COAST REVIEW •
Father the Flame
Director/Cinematographer Chad Terpstra’s contemplative love letter to the tobacco pipe, Father the Flame charts the art of pipe-making from its roots in Native American culture, to the so-called factory pipes of France and Italy, all the way through to modern, high-grade artisanal pieces (works of art in their own right, some of these pipes will cost the same as a down payment on a house). It’s a hypnotic work, striking the same reverence for its subject as Jiro Dreams of Sushi does for the famed Japanese cuisine. The documentary’s main subject, and its true heart, is Lee Erck, a world renowned pipe-maker from Michigan whose unassuming attitude and Midwestern cadence reveal something rare: a truly humble genius.
Terpstra captures the artist in his small home workshop, follows him to Japan and Italy; an interlude in Chicago (the home of the world’s largest pipe convention), is especially touching, showcasing Erck’s dedication to the craft and his love for the community of pipe-devotees. Terpstra manages to find mythic proportions in the fine details of these exquisite pieces; tracking across the pipe’s microscopic wood grain feels like flying across canyons, close-ups of burning of tobacco look practically volcanic, and when cut between celestial photography and paired with an operatic score, the film takes on the feeling of a séance. What emerges from it all is a magnificent and haunting meditation on legacy, inheritance, obsession and the meaning of a life’s work. Father The Flame screens Friday, 10/12 at 6:30pm, and Sunday, 10/14 at 11:30am. Filmmaker Chad Terpstra, subject Lee Von Erck and more are scheduled to attend. (MN)