(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 film critic and a contributing editor of Filmmaker magazine. He is also a photographer: his history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images is forthcoming. Previews on Twitter (twitter.com/chighostsigns) as well as daily photography on Instagram: instagram.com/raypride. Twitter: twitter.com/RayPride. (Photo: Jorge Colombo.)