Unlimited 23

A documentary about the Music Unlimited Festival 2009
Directed by Pavel Borodin
Germany / Austria, 2011, 123 min

“Unlimited 23” is the first full-length documentary about the Music Unlimited Festival, one of
the most renowned European festivals for jazz and improvised music, which is held annually
since 1987 in Wels, Austria. The film, commissioned by Kulturverein Waschaecht, the
organisers of the festival, is dedicated to its 23rd edition as of 2009.

That year’s programme was curated by the Japanese-American avant-garde musician
Ikue Mori. That year, Wels became the meeting place for many acclaimed members of the
international improvised music scene such as Fred Frith, Chris Cutler, Zeena Parkins, Phil
Minton, Sylvie Courvoisier and Lotte Anker, with a notably strong contribution from female
performers. Several projects were formed especially for Wels and performed alongside the
existing bands like Speak Easy, SPUNK and Phantom Orchard Orchestra.

The film switches from fragments of all the sixteen concerts of the tree-day festival to
numerous interviews with the organisers and musicians, who talk about their projects,
improvisation, inner limits of their music and, of course, the unusual, almost homelike
atmosphere of the festival. The music played is unique and diverse: from the opening
performance of elaborately constructed John Zorn’s Cobra – to the cheerful closing done by
the Dutch ex-punk band The Ex, who celebrated in Wels their 30th anniversary.