Jazz Alumni Direct, Star in New Documentary

Keep on Keepin’ On, which premiered at New York’s TriBeCa Film Festival in April, tells the story of Kauflin, a pianist who lost his vision at age 11 from a rare eye disease (see profile, WP Magazine, Spring 2013) and suffers from severe stage fright, and the bond he forms with Clark Terry, then 89 and beginning to lose his sight as a complication of diabetes. When Kauflin is invited to compete in an elite international competition, Terry’s health takes a turn for the worse; the film follows them as they tackle the toughest challenges of their interwoven lives.

Hicks, a drummer and native of Australia who graduated from the University with a bachelor’s degree in jazz studies, was inspired to make the film based on his own experience with Terry at the University. Hicks was among a number of students Terry mentored during several years on campus, and was one of six students in an ensemble that worked with Terry for a year.

Hicks enlisted his friend and fellow Australian, cinematographer Adam Hart, and they used Kickstarter to fund the project, raising more than $43,000 to support filming. They shot 350 hours of footage over four years. Renowned producer Quincy Jones, who at age 13 was Clark Terry’s first student, stopped by Terry’s home in Arkansas one day during filming and became interested in the project; he eventually came on board as a producer.

The film has already won numerous accolades, including the best audience and best new director awards at the 2014 TriBeCa Film Festival, and best documentary at the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival, and has been screened at other film festivals across the country. The film premiered in Los Angeles on September 19 and New York on October 3.

 For more details, visit keeponkeepinon.com

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