Max Richter’s ‘Sleep’ revitalises independent cinema

‘My personal lullaby for a frenetic world. A manifesto for a slower pace of existence’- Max Richter

Max Richter’s Sleep, a documentary telling the story behind the composer’s work, will have its European premiere in cinemas this week. The film will open in more than 87 in the UK and Irish cinemas on Tuesday, 8th September accompanied by a Q&A with Max Richter and his creative partner and producer of Sleep Yulia Mahr. The film debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim.

The film is at the forefront of revitalising independent cinema with the premier already sold out in several cinemas. Yulia Mahr said: ‘Max and I spent most of our 20s watching films at the Everyman in Hampstead, the Curzon cinemas and in any independent cinema we could get to. We spent our 30s at The Filmhouse and The Cameo in Edinburgh.

‘In fact, I think we spent more time in cinemas than out for a while. We were hungry to know more of the world and there it was, we loved those all day Sunday screenings and would argue into the night about the meaning of everything we had seen. Max’s favourites were the Russians Tarkovsky, of course, and I loved the French New Wave, especially Jean Rouch and the indie scene coming out of America at the time.

‘Nothing beats cinema that immersive experience of being engulfed in a world not your own. It’s under threat these days but home viewing where your everyday world is still right there beside you doesn’t cut it. I’m delighted that our film can play a small part in getting audiences back into independent cinemas. We all need more dream time.’

A film for these frenetic times, Max Richter’s Sleep is a meditative respite from the rush and chaos of the modern world, studying the universal experience of sleep that unites us all. The film follows acclaimed composer and musician Max Richter (whose film credits include Shutter Island, Mary Queen of Scots and Ad Astra), and his creative partner, artist and BAFTA-winning filmmaker Yulia Mahr, as they navigate an ambitious performance of his celebrated eight-hour opus Sleep at an open-air concert in Los Angeles.

The film is a ground-breaking visual portrait which echoes the contemplative essence of Richter’s work, offering a poetic depiction of the ‘liminal state’ audiences experience when attending a live performance – where fans slumber through the overnight concert in beds, not seats. Mahr’s personal archive is weaved with performance footage from Berlin, Sydney, and Paris to create a rich portrait of a shared artistic process, along with contributions that illuminate both the science and story behind the work.

Max Richter’s eight-hour Sleep concert is the live incarnation of his 2015 album of the same name, which has been hugely successful worldwide – praised by critics and garnering roughly 350 million streams. The landmark piece was premiered in London four years ago (becoming the longest single continuous piece of music ever broadcast live on the radio) and has since been performed around the world in a variety of stunning venues including the Sydney Opera House, Grand Park in Los Angeles, Kraftwerk Berlin, the Philharmonie de Paris and most recently at the Great Wall of China.

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. Richter and Mahr continue to push the boundaries of music, art and technology – forging new creative paths to embrace listeners worldwide. These new projects are not only a showcase of his extraordinary talent but also a call to contemplation and a celebration of community in changing times

Earlier this year Max Richter released his pioneering new album Voices to critical acclaim. This major recording project was inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The album is an artistic response to our turbulent times and the human potential for compassion. Alongside the album, Yulia Mahr created breathtaking videos for the first two singles ‘All Human Beings’ and ‘Mercy’. The videos offer a glimpse into a full audiovisual project which will be announced later in the year.