Edinburgh International Film Festival

Air Guitar Nation (2006)

Starring: C Diddy, Björn Türoque, Magnet, Red Plectrum, Krye Tuff

Directed by: Alexandra Lipsitz

Rating: 1 2 3 4

'To air is human
To air guitar, divine'

Björn Türoque

To thee and me, it may be a rather over-exuberant way of dancing to AC/DC and Maiden when you've had a few too many. But to some folk, air guitaring is the purest art form in existence, a Zen-like fusion of physical energy and imagination, a performance skill which takes dedication, attitude and nerves and balls of steel. Make air not war... If you're holding an air guitar, you can't carry a gun... Welcome to the world of the air guitar championships, where men are men, women are mulleted freaks and guitars are completely invisible.

Bjorn Turoque struts his stuff at the World Air Guitar Championships in Finland

Air Guitar Nation follows two East Coast air guitar heroes, the second generation Korean immigrant David Jung, aka Hong Kong Phooey lookalike C Diddy, and New York rawker Dan Cane, aka Björn Türoque, as they fight it out to become the first US Air Guitar Champion, and ultimately, the Champion of the World. No, this time this is no mocku-rockumentary. Believe me, you couldn't make this up.

Director Alexandra Lipsitz takes a leaf out of The Metal Years' Penelope Spheeris' songbook by treating her budding wannabes utterly seriously - after all, no sarky Graham Norton-style voiceover could make our air guitarists seem any more ridiculous than they already do. If it's not the cod philosophy and on-screen soul searching, it's the embarrassing patriotism and earnest attempts to take this ephemeral craft as seriously as an Olympic sport. Not to mention the silly wigs and truly hysterical metal shape throwing.

And yet there's also something strangely persuasive about the whole thing. 'It started off as a joke,' the founders of the World Championships in Finland explain, 'but now it's so big, it's hard to think of it as a joke any more.' Likewise, as our heroes travel to the small Finnish town of Oulu for the finals, experiencing Air Guitar Boot Camp and a Mayoral reception along the way, you can't help getting involved in their story, perhaps even rooting for the desperately sad also-ran Björn Türoque, whose whole life appears to revolve around his quest to be the best air guitarist in the world, yet whose dreams are constantly pipped to the post by the flashy showmanship of C Diddy. In the end, it comes down to a clash of styles: the louche, New York Dolls-esque strutting of Björn Türoque vs the flamboyant, Steve Vai-inspired antics of C Diddy. Which will triumph in the end? Ah, now that would be a spoiler.

Ridiculous? Just a bit. Self-delusional? Oh yes. Curiously enthralling and madly, hilariously entertaining? Completely. If you love your rock music, then this affectionate, beautifully crafted and thoroughly delightful documentary is for you. And hey, the soundtrack totally rocks!

But does it really have a point? In the final words of Björn Türoque: 'As Nietzsche said. oh shit, I've forgotten what Nietzsche said.'

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