Promises: Through Congress

BBFC RatingPromises: Through Congress

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CertificateNot Rated
Year2021
GenreArt, Music
CountryUSA
Running Time0HR 46MINS
SeasonMain Programme

Promises: Through Congress is a collaboration between visual artist Julie Mehretu, electronic music composer Sam Shepherd (Floating Points), and filmmaker Trevor Tweeten. This 46-minute film features Mehretu’s expansive painting Congress (2003) and Promises by Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders, and the London Symphony Orchestra, released by Luaka Bop.

Five years in the making, Promises is a continuous piece of music presented in nine movements for saxophone, strings, keyboards and electronics, composed by Floating Points. It was one of the most celebrated albums of 2021.

While composing Promises, Shepherd said he would refer to and get lost within Mehretu’s painting: “I wanted to perpetuate this idea of being centred in the middle of the painting with its details swirling around you and this film is an extrapolation of that idea, of being in the middle of this perfect storm which only slowly reveals itself.”

The film was shot by Tweeten in the winter of 2021 on location at The Broad during an exhibition that featured Mehretu’s work, including Congress.

Following last year’s premiere at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Mehretu said, “It is an immense honour to be in the orbit of this brilliant, mesmerising and transformative album composed by Sam Shepard, with one of the living legends of music, Pharoah Sanders. It feels like both a balm and a calling of this precarious, vertiginous time.”

In addition to The Whitney, the film has screened very sparsely, and previously only been shown at The Broad in Los Angeles, Barbican Centre in London, and Anthology Film Archives in New York. The film is also currently featured in a special programme on the Criterion Channel in North America. 

Sadly, Pharoah Sanders passed away in September 2022. These QFT screenings represent our modest tribute to a giant of music.

Special thanks to Eric Welles-Nystrom at Luaka Bop.