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11 FEBRUARY 2020 (TORONTO, ON)--BAFTA-winning film-maker Yulia Mahr is to reveal her new video for "Vladimir’s Blues", from Max Richter’s Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Music Canada, the country's leading music company album The Blue Notebooks. The film is an artistic response to escalating global tension. Yulia Mahr’s take on Vladimir’s Blues receives its official YouTube global premiere on 11 February 2020 (11am EST/5pm CET), immediately preceded by a 30-minute live chat between Mahr and Richter.


Watch "Vladimir's Blues" HERE


"Vladimir’s Blues" is about fragile beauty and the power of small things to elevate our everyday experience. Yulia Mahr’s short film unlocks the positive power of a technology originally developed for surveillance and military purposes. She essentially subverts that purpose, using thermal imaging cameras – which transform infrared radiation (heat) into visible images – in a creative context to shape a narrative about a composition and the inspiration behind it.  


"Vladimir’s Blues" has so far scored over 105 million streams to become Max Richter’s No.1 streaming track. The Blue Notebooks was not only a protest album, but meditation on violence in general, and particularly the violence that Richter  experienced around him as a child. Richter had an unhappy childhood, which he would escape through music, literature and a love and fascination for beautiful things – especially butterflies. In "Vladimir’s Blues", Mahr poignantly highlights Richter’s story of a lost child escaping into music. The piece also leans on Mahr’s own difficult childhood.


The artistry of the finished product belies the huge number of challenges involved in using instruments designed for military and industrial applications. “The cameras are unwieldy and cumbersome … They interrupt filming every 15 seconds or so … One small movement pulls you out of focus …” – as Mahr explains, the list of difficulties goes on and on.


It was the message of peace inherent in The Blue Notebooks, which began life in 2003 as Richter’s personal protest against the Iraq War, that led Mahr to explore the creative possibilities of thermal imaging. “I wondered about this technology of war and surveillance, and whether I could disrupt its intention to create something positive, that speaks very much of individual experience,” she recalls. And in her hands, a technology that routinely dehumanizes is transformed into a vehicle for expressing our shared humanity.


“There is a strange beauty inherent in this imagery, a beauty that is deeply tarnished by associations with migrants hiding, and dying, in refrigerated lorries to evade detection by this very same technology. Would it be possible to claim this imagery for something hopeful, as Max’s music does?” This was the question Mahr asked herself as she set out to produce her profoundly moving film. “Slowly a thing of beauty began to evolve. Most beautiful of all was the discovery that the heat traces we leave as we move around can tell our stories, and the story of a piece of music and how it unfolds. A legacy that says, ‘we were here and we count’.” 


Richter and Mahr have worked together for over 25 years as part of Studio Richter Mahr, a collaborative home for their creative projects. At its core is the belief that creativity exists as a social project that can illuminate the lives of individuals and society as a whole, and that art exists beyond all boundaries. The duo recently collaborated on SLEEP, followed by a documentary on the project, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim.


About Yulia Mahr

Yulia Mahr is a visual artist and film-maker with a background in visual anthropology. She has worked both in the academic field and as a practitioner/curator, often in collaboration with her partner Max Richter. Recent and current projects include the SOUNDS AND VISIONS festival at the Barbican Centre, London; LE WEEK-ENDS at La Philharmonie de Paris; and the ongoing series of SLEEP performances, latterly in New York, Los Angeles, Sydney, Amsterdam, Austin, Paris, London and Beijing. Yulia Mahr’s numerous films have been shown at Tribeca and Edinburgh film festivals amongst others, and have been featured on ARTE, Wallpaper*, NOWNESS and Vimeo Staff Picks. She has been awarded a BAFTA. Yulia Mahr is creative and visual director of Studio Richter Mahr.


About Max Richter

Max Richter stands as one of the most influential figures on the contemporary music scene, producing groundbreaking work as a composer, pianist, recording artist and collaborator. He is best known for his genre-defining solo albums including The Blue Notebooks (named by the Guardian as one of the 25 best classical music works of the 21st century), Memoryhouse, Songs From Before, Infra, Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works and the eight-hour epic SLEEP. His 2012 record Recomposed By Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons topped the classical charts in 22 countries.


Richter has written widely for ballet, opera and film. His most recent projects include scoring Hollywood film soundtracks Ad Astra starring Brad Pitt and director Josie Rourke’s historical drama Mary Queen of Scots. Other works include Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works for The Royal Ballet, Hostiles directed by Scott Cooper, Miss Sloane directed by John Madden, Black Mirror’s ‘Nosedive’ directed by Joe Wright and Taboo for Tom Hardy, which earned him an Emmy nomination. His music is also featured in Damon Lindelof’s HBO series The Leftovers, as well as having his music featured prominently in Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, Ari Folman’s Waltz With Bashir and as the opening and end theme in Denis Villeneuve’s Oscar-winning film Arrival.


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