As far as Paul Thomas Anderson is concerned, 2015 has been one big long surprise party. First it was announced that Anderson was writing a live-action Pinocchio for Warner Bros., with nudge-nudge hints suggesting that he was also considering directing the project. Then, pal and Inherent Vice narrator Joanna Newsom announced her first new album in 5 years with a music video directed by Anderson, shot seemingly on the fly on the streets of New York.
Now comes news that Anderson directed a documentary called Junun, which was announced earlier today as a surprise addition to the New York Film Festival slate. Junun follows Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood—who scored Inherent Vice, The Master, and There Will Be Blood—and Israeli musician Shye Ben Tzur as they travel to a 15th century fortress in northwestern India to record an album. (Longtime Radiohead producer/unofficial sixth member Nigel Godrich was also involved, along with a host of Indian musicians.)
Running just under an hour long, Junun can’t help but come across as part of a larger trend of artist-profile documentaries directed by filmmakers who aren’t known for making them. Less than a month ago, Christopher Nolan revealed that he’d secretly made a film about the Brothers Quay, which will be part of a touring retrospective of their work. Meanwhile, Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s De Palma will be getting its North American premiere in the same NYFF program as Junun.