(Pianomania: Auf der Suche nach dem perfekten Klang) Lillian Franck and Robert Cibis’ 2009 “Pianomania” is an engaging documentary about Stefan Knüpfer, Viennese master piano tuner for Steinway & Sons, who calibrates the instruments of concert pianists like Alfred Brendel, Lang Lang and Pierre-Laurent Aimard into top performance condition. Knüpfer’s a virtuoso behind the virtuosos, and as latter-day process documentaries about esoteric trades go, “Pianomania”‘s portrait gently amuses, especially with the inescapable resemblance of the shaggy, bespectacled Knüpfer to a Harry Potter grown up into a different sort of wizarding, wielding other magic wands in search of perfect sounds in a specific place. It’s also a keen look at collaboration: artists very often require other artists behind the scenes, near at hand. 93m. (Ray Pride)
“Pianomania” opens Friday at Siskel.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.