Thorsten Schütte first heard Frank Zappa’s music when he was twelve. And my first question to the filmmaker on June 17, 2016 was how that experience as such a tender age changed his life. From his answer, and the look on his face as he answered, I’m not sure he’s quite over being quite so bowled over with the shockingly original compositions, and that was before his English was good enough to fully appreciate the lyrics that accompanied said music.
We went on to discuss how to extract the essence of someone from interviews ( a journalistic style that Zappa himself once characterized as inherently artificial), who that state trooper was that we see conducting a video interview of Zappa, and how Schütte ended up at a concert that was one of the pivotal moments of Zappa’s career. We finished up with Schütte describing Zappa’s prescient musings on MTV, winning won over Zappa’s widow, Gail, in order to have access to much of this material, and about Schütte’s own work saving the music of Namibia from extinction.
EAT THAT QUESTION is his documentary about Frank Zappa, who burst on the scene with the Mothers of Invention in 1966, and remained a potent force until his death in 1993. Rather than voice-over commentary or talking heads giving their own takes or memories of Zappa, the film allows the musician, composer, filmmaker, and outspoken social critic to speak directly to the audience by using clips of interviews and performances, some never seen in the United States, he gave over the years, from one of his very his early televisions appearances wearing Brylcreemed hair and a subdued suit to one of his final appearances taped not long before he died of cancer at 52. Always honest, if not always serious, Zappa comes across as a man who barely suffered fools, and was quick to speak the truth to power that was his driving force creatively and socially. His previous work includes I WAS THE KING OF PORN – THE ADVENTUROUS LIFE OF LASSE BRAUN, LAND MATTERS, and NAMIBIA GENERATION X. He is also a founding member of the Stolen Moments – Namibian Music History Untold Research Group, and coordinated documentary and fiction studies at the Filmakademie Baen-Württemberg.