Director: Chuang Xu
United States, 2020, 70 min
Cast:Margaret Leng Tan , George Crumb
Crew:Producers: Ziyu Tang, Bella Racklin, Jessie Adeler.
In 1971, Margaret Leng Tan was the first woman to earn a Doctorate degree from the Juilliard School. Since then, her five-decade career has made the musician a figurehead of avant-garde music, owing predominantly to her incorporation of the toy piano in her performances. We meet Leng Tan at the age of 71 as she embarks on an iconic collaboration with George Crumb, one of the last remaining avant-garde composers of his era. "Twinkle Dammit!" gives access to the rarely-seen creative process between two musical geniuses, peeling back the public-facing surface of the world's greatest toy-piano-virtuoso to explore the private obsessions that have lead to a life committed to the avant-garde.
About the director
Chuang Xu is a multi-disciplinary film director and cinematographer based in New York. He received his MFA degree in Social Documentary Film department in School of Visual Arts. Chuang's career started in 2013, he worked on a variety of documentary series about environmental conservation. He focused on exploring the motivations of human behavirors and excavating the pure inner world of the character. His style is to build up stories in a compelling and intimate way.
"Twinkle Dammit!" is a rare and important film because it profiles a leading figure of avant-garde music. We are able to understand the development of Leng Tan's life, her career and her singular impact on her field through her own words, making this a truly intimate and authentic record of an artist's life. The extremely exclusive access it gains to Leng Tan's personal archive, as well as to the creative process of musical genius George Crumb in his old age, make this a film of critical historical value to the preservation of avant-garde music in America.