The Velvet Underground Played At My High School

An animated short about the Velvet Underground's first gig in 1965 in front of a crowd of shocked kids at a suburban New Jersey High School.

On December 11, 1965, The Velvet Underground played their first concert (and their first paid gig) at the most unlikeliest of places: a high school auditorium in Summit, New Jersey. They opened for a popular local band called The Myddle Class, who had a top 40 hit on the AM radio. The audience was packed with Myddle Class fans, who were mostly sheltered kids from this picture-perfect town some 25 miles west of New York City -- kids who were just discovering the Beatles but who were still dancing the Lindy, the Waltz, and the Cha Cha at school dances.


It was in this atmosphere that the black-leather-clad Velvets hit the stage blasting loud, droning, screeching music laced with drug-and sex-infused lyrics. On the stage for merely 20 minutes, they performed three songs, ending with “Heroin,” and the audience responded with, as one of the band recalled in 1983, a “murmur of surprise that greeted our appearance” that “increased to a roar of disbelief as we started to play” and “swelled to a mighty howl of outrage and bewilderment…” Half the audience walked out.

Among those who remained to witness the extraordinary concert was 10th grader Tony Jannelli, who sat riveted to his seat, wide-eyed and mind blown. A music lover who had his own band, he eagerly devoured this avant-garde, startling new sound. His fascinating recounting of that surreal evening provides the narration for this whimsical and comical animate documentary short film, or, as we like to call it, "documentation."

Scheduled to hit the festival circuit in fall of 2017. A first cut of the film was a huge hit at the Cité de la Musique-Philharmonie de Paris, and ran as part of their exhibition on the Velvet Underground from March - August of 2016.

Directed By: Anthony Jannelli and Robert Pietri

Written By: Marina Donahue

Produced By: Anthony Jannelli, Robert Pietri, Tara Pietri, and Marina Donahue

 

September 24, 2019

Winner - Music Award Short at Docutah

The Velvet Underground Played At My High School won the best 'Music Award Short' at the Docutah International Film Festival.  The festival has been providing world class documentary films for the past 10 years in Southern Utah. See their website for the full list of winners. Congratulations to all!

April 14, 2019

Best Documentary Short Film Winner at the Sydney World Film Festival

Today the Sydney World Film Festival announced the award winners - Best Documentary Short Film: THE VELVET UNDERGROUND PLAYED AT MY HIGH SCHOOL (UNITED STATES) BY ROBERT PIETRI, TONY JANNELLI. This animated documentary is the story of the Velvet Underground's disastrous first public performance.  We were chosen from over 1,500 submissions the festival received from 45 different countries. To see the full list, please visit: Award Winner Site  Thank you Sydney World Film Festival!

February 10, 2019

2019 Brussels Independent Film Festival

The Velvet Underground Played at My High School has been officially selected for the 2019 Brussels Independent Film Festival. Possible screenings dates are Sunday, February 10 at the Atomium building or Monday, February 11 to Saturday, February 16 at Cinema Galeries. Full details will be released once we receive them. Interesting detail: The Atomium is a building in Brussels originally constructed for the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. Designed by the engineer André Waterkeyn and architects André and Jean Polak, it stands 102 m (335 ft) tall. Its nine 18 m (60 ft) diameter stainless steel clad spheres are connected so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times.

November 26, 2018

Black Maria Jury’s Citation Award for 2019

We are delighted to announce that our film was chosen by the festival jurors, Peggy Parsons and Henry Baker, as the recipient of the Black Maria Jury’s Citation Award for 2019.  Please visit the official festival website and the official festival Facebook page by clicking the Laurel image (left) and the Button below. Thank you so much for the wonderful news!

November 18, 2018

A time to reflect before Thanksgiving

Thank you to everyone that made our film such a success story in 2018. We have been selected to screen at 56 festivals so far, and we are still going strong. We've proudly won seven (7) awards at:

 

Paris International Animation Film Festival

Hong Kong Art House Film Festival

Long Beach International Film Festival

Toronto Art House Film Festival

Amsterdam Independent Film Festival

Venice Film Week 

Boston Short Film Fest

We still have a few more screenings to announce as soon as we receive the official festival laurels. If you need to plan, the accepted screenings prior to the end of the year, include: 

 

Porto/Post/Doc - 11/26/2018 at 10:00 pm

London International Animation Festival - 12/1/2018 at 8:45 pm

London Super Shorts Festival - 12/2/2018 at 10:00 pm

Thank you so much and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from the Velvet Underground Played at my High School team.

November 18, 2018

Sound Unseen Music/Film/Art Festival

We are screening as part of the 19th annual Sound Unseen Shorts Program on Sunday, November 18 at 5:15 pm at Bryant Lake Bowl. The entire Sound Unseen music/film/art festival takes place November 14-18, 2018 in Minneapolis, MN.

November 14, 2018

La Plata International Independent Film Festival

Our Latin American Premiere in Buenos Aires, Argentina!  We are screening on Sunday, November 14th at 9:00 pm in the Cinema Eco Select. More details about the Festival Internacional de Cine independiente de La Plata - FESTIFREAK - can be found on their website. Official selection laurel coming soon.

November 14, 2018

35th Annual Olympia Film Festival

We will be screening as part of the Olympia Film Society at the Historic Capitol Theater 206 5th Avenue SE, Olympia, WA 98501. WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14 at 4pm. The ticket link is:

https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?actions=73&p=4

November 08, 2018

Doc'n Roll Film Festival London

Doc'n Roll Shorts Screening + Q&A will take place Thursday 8th November from 7:30-9:30pm at The House Of Vans; Arches, 228-232 Station Approach Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 8SW. Passionate about independent film and music across all genres, we provide our audience with the opportunity to watch these films as they were designed to be watched - LOUD. We launched Doc'n Roll Film Fest in 2014, to finally show some love to under the radar music docs being largely ignored by risk averse film programmers.

November 07, 2018

Finalist at the 38th Annual Black Maria Film Festival 2019

We are very excited to be selected as a finalist at the 38th Annual Black Maria Film Festival - 2019. Full details will be released as they come in... In the meantime, please visit the official festival website and the official festival Facebook page by clicking the Laurel image (left) and the Button below.

November 02, 2018

St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF)

The Velvet Underground Played My High School will screen with the feature Boom on at 7:30 pm on Friday, Nov. 2, at Stage at KDHX (120-seat venue) Welcome Cinema St. Louis... The 27th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) continues to provide the opportunity for St. Louis filmgoers to view the finest in world cinema — international films, documentaries, American indies, and shorts that can only be seen on the big screen at the festival.

October 27, 2018

SPARK ANIMATION 2018: FILM FESTIVAL

SPARK ANIMATION 2018: FILM FESTIVAL. October 25 - 28, 2018. Multiple venues. Please check screening info. In the world of animation, the films we love stay with us. We remember the laughter, the fears, the challenges, and joys of characters brought to life on the screen through the wonders of CG to stop-motion. SPARK ANIMATION celebrates the impact of animation on today’s entertainment industry and honours the diversity of films and techniques in the field.

October 27, 2018

The Northern Wave IFF - Iceland

Alþjóðlega stuttmyndahátíðin Northern Wave býður upp á fjölbreytt úrval alþjóðlegra stuttmynda og íslenskra tónlistarmyndbanda auk annar viðburða, t.a.m. fiskisúpukeppni, fyrirlestra, vinnustofur og tónleika svo dæmi séu nefnd :)   lol   

You should have taken a second language in college!  Basically, the screening for VUHS is on Saturday, October 27th at 6pm. We are hosted by The Northern Wave IFF in Iceland.

October 25, 2018

Nominated for Best Animated Short Film 2018 - RHIFF

We were just Nominated for Best Animated Short Film 2018 at the Richard Harris International Film Festival. Fingers crossed...

October 25, 2018

Richard Harris International Film Festival

Very excited to be an Official Selection of the wonderful Richard Harris International Film Festival. See you in Limerick October 25-30.  Can’t wait for this really fun and great festival. Congratulations to Robert Pietri, Tony Jannelli and the team of #thevelvetundergroundplayedatmyhighschool. Thank you to Zeb Moore and Sylvia and Rob Gill.

October 24, 2018

Best Documentary Short Film Winner at The Toronto Arthouse Film Festival

'The Velvet Underground Played at My High School' (United States) by Robert Pietri, Tony Jannelli was awarded as Best Documentary Short Film. This animated documentary is the story of the Velvet Underground's disastrous first public performance. While on stage for merely 20 minutes, The Velvet Underground performed three songs: 'There She Goes', 'Venus in Furs', and 'Heroin'. The Summit High School audience responded with, as a band member recalled in 1983, a 'murmur of surprise that greeted the appearance' that 'increased to a roar of disbelief as the band started to play' which'swelled to a mighty howl of outrage and bewilderment...' Half the audience walked out.

October 23, 2018

A discussion with Anthony Janelli

A discussion with acclaimed cinematographer Anthony Janelli. October 23, 6 pm - The Velvet Underground Experience. 718 Broadway. New York, NY 10003. Click for Ticket link...

October 25, 2018

Official selection of the 'coolest film festival in the world' - The Portland Film Festival!

Both Native and The Velvet Underground Played at my High School are official selections of the Portland Film Festival. Over the moon excited. From October 22nd to 28th, 2018, Portland won't just be the City of Roses—it'll be the City of Independent Film. Come be a part of what MovieMaker Magazine called, "one of the coolest film festivals in the world. Velvet Underground screens on Thursday October 25th at 2pm

October 17, 2018

BFI London Film Festival

We are thrilled to announce our two screenings at the 2018 BFI London Film Festival. Co-Director, Robert Pietri, will be there for the Q/A after and we hope you can join us there as well.

October 12, 2018

By the time I got to Woodstock...

The Velvet Underground Played at my High School is going to Woodstock! AND we are nominated for Best Documentary Short at both Woodstock and Raindance film festivals. Catch us at Woodstock October 12 and 13. UPDATE: Just found out that we were also nominated for a Maverick Award in the Best Documentary Short category! Fingers crossed.

October 11, 2018

5 Reasons You Have to Check Out The Velvet Underground Experience In NYC

One of the exhibit's unexpected delights is a hilarious interview with a man who saw the first-ever live show from the Velvet Underground in 1965. Paired with a black-and-white animated video that captures every beat of his story, he recounts the tale of the Velvets unleashing three songs (including "Heroin"!) on an audience of disgusted high schoolers when they opened for Jersey garage rockers The Myddle Class. Read more in BILLBOARD MAGAZINE

October 10, 2018

PowerPop Review - I'll be your mirror

I'll be your mirror - An idiosyncratic blog dedicated to the precursors, the practitioners, and the descendants of power pop. All suggestions for postings and sidebar links welcome. Read more.

October 10, 2018

Inside the Velvet Underground Experience, a Tribute to All Yesterday’s Parties

James Murphy, Laurie Anderson, and David Gahan were among the hundreds of party people who packed into last night’s opening of the Velvet Underground Experience, a pop-up exhibition in the Village celebrating the seminal NYC band and the cultural era it helped define. Also on hand were avant-garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas, whose work is a prominent part of the show, and one of the band’s founding members, John Cale. Read more

October 05, 2018

New York ComicCon 2018

New York ComicCon 2018 Panelist - We are a panelist at NYCC (Bring on the Cosplay!) Friday, October 5th at 7:45 pm. Room 1A02. Javits Center. Directors and Lead animator are scheduled to appear.

September 29, 2018

London’s prestigious Raindance Film Festival

A little bit of backstory from VU writer Marina Donahue: "In 2010 Rachel Donahue and I went on a mommy-daughter trip to Sundance to watch indie films and dream starry-eyed that someday we might have a film in a festival. 8 years later...we both have films at London’s prestigious Raindance Film Festival. The Velvet Underground Played at my High School will screen in the Animation Programme on Saturday Sept 29 at 1pm. Major Arcana, a feature shot in Vermont in which Rachel co-stars, will screen Sept 27 at 8:45pm and Friday Sept 28th at 1pm. Sometimes our dreams do come true!." UPDATE - We were just nominated at Raindance for Best Animation Short! Fingers crossed.

September 25, 2018

Best Documentary Short Film Winner at the Amsterdam Film Festival

The Amsterdam Independent Film Festival has announced the award winners for the 2018 edition. 'The Velvet Underground Played at My High School' (United States) by Robert Pietri, Tony Jannelli was awarded as Best Documentary Short Film. This animated documentary is the story of the Velvet Underground's disastrous first public performance. While on stage for merely 20 minutes, The Velvet Underground performed three songs: 'There She Goes', 'Venus in Furs', and 'Heroin'. The Summit High School audience responded with, as a band member recalled in 1983, a 'murmur of surprise that greeted the appearance' that 'increased to a roar of disbelief as the band started to play' which'swelled to a mighty howl of outrage and bewilderment...' Half the audience walked out.

September 22, 2018

Paris International Animation Film Festival - Special Mention Award Winner

The Velvet Underground won in Paris. We are so proud to take the Special Mention Award home with us. Please visit the official website or the Facebook page to see what all of the fuss was about. Viva La France...

September 20, 2018

Paris International Animation Film Festival - Official Selection

The Velvet Underground goes to Paris. We are so proud to be selected. Please visit the official website or the Facebook page to find out more about the festival. Viva La France...

September 16, 2018

Coney Island Film Festival

Join us at the screening, then the cyclone after! Director scheduled to appear. Sunday, September 16 at 1 PM – 1:15 PM.  Coney Island Museum 1208 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11224  Tickets and more information at: http://www.coneyislandfilmfestival.com/

September 07, 2018

Best Documentary Short Film - Venice Film Week

'The Velvet Underground Played at My High School' (United States) by Robert Pietri, Tony Jannelli was awarded as Best Documentary Short Film. This animated documentary is the story of the Velvet Underground's disastrous first public performance. While on stage for merely 20 minutes, The Velvet Underground performed three songs: 'There She Goes', 'Venus in Furs', and 'Heroin'. The Summit High School audience responded with, as a band member recalled in 1983, a 'murmur of surprise that greeted the appearance' that 'increased to a roar of disbelief as the band started to play' which'swelled to a mighty howl of outrage and bewilderment...' Half the audience walked out.

August 07, 2018

Best Animated Short at Long Beach International Film Festival

We won Best Animated Short for The Velvet Underground Played at My High School. Thank you to @lbiffny for this honor!

August 01, 2018

Long Beach International Film Festival

The 2018 Long Beach International Film Festival is scheduled to take place from AUGUST 1​st​-4​th ​on Long Island, New York. LBIFF18 will screen an international slate of over 50 films, including feature-length narrative, documentary, short and animated categories that will compete for a series of Jury, Festival Honors and Audience Awards. Follow Long Beach International Film Festival on Facebook, Twitter (@LBIFFNY) and Instagram (@LBIFFNY). For exact information, please visit http://www.longbeachfilm.com/

July 19, 2018

Boston Short Film Fest Winner - Best Animated Short

So happy to announce another win for our dangerous little short The Velvet Underground Played at my High School! Thank you Boston Short Film Fest and Congrats Team VUHS

July 18, 2018

New screening in NYC on July 18th

We will be screening in NYC on July 18th for any NY folks who missed us at Tribeca. Click the button to read more about the event and to purchase tickets.

July 03, 2018

Four Weeks / Eleven Festivals / Two Awards

Starting May 20, we screened at 11 different film festivals on four continents, and garnered two awards during this time. Please join us in celebrating this, along with our team: AutumnJbJennaKevin, Kristen, Lee, MarinaRichardRickRobert,Rossanna, Tara, Tony, and Valery!

Thank you, AFI DocsAnimafest ZagrebFestival international du film d'animation d'AnnecyASIFA EastHong Kong Arthouse Film FestivalLighthouse International Film FestivalPalm Springs International Film Festival & Palm Springs ShortFestSeattle International Film Festival,SouthSide Film FestivalSydney Film Festival, andVero Beach Wine + Film Festival! This has been a great honor!

June 27, 2018

Winner - Best Documentary - Hong Kong Arthouse Film Festival

PRESS RELEASE - Hong Kong Arthouse Film Festival has announced the award winners for the 2018 edition.

The prize for the best documentary film was for The Velvet Underground Played at My High School (United States) by Robert Pietri, Tony Jannelli. This animated documentary is the story of the Velvet Underground's disastrous first public performance. While on stage for merely 20 minutes, The Velvet Underground performed three songs: 'There She Goes', 'Venus in Furs', and 'Heroin'. The Summit High School audience responded with, as a band member recalled in 1983, a 'murmur of surprise that greeted the appearance' that 'increased to a roar of disbelief as the band started to play' which'swelled to a mighty howl of outrage and bewilderment...' Half the audience walked out.

The Hong Kong Arthouse Film Festival is all about celebrating the Unique Voices of the World. At its heart, art is about celebrating the unique voice and message that we each possess. Sometimes loud, often quiet, occasionally bold and brash, and perhaps even shy, that singular voice should speak to others and by doing so, help them to better see themselves. This vision of film as a medium that inspires and challenges - and supporting the filmmakers who create these works - is the mission of the Hong Kong Arthouse Film Festival.

June 27, 2018

The Best Short in the Program - Review by Film International

Observation and Immersion: 2018 AFI Docs - By Gary M. Kramer.

Arguably the best short in the program is Tony C. Jannelli and Robert Pietri’s The Velvet Underground Played at My High School. Animated (because it couldn’t be restaged) the film recounts the first public appearance by the titular band at a Summit, NJ high school in 1965. They appeared on a bill with The Myddle Class, a local band that was getting radio airplay at the time. However, the Velvet Underground’s sound was significantly different and actually quite shocking to the audience who booed or left during the three-song set. However, eyewitness and survivor Jannelli has a different perspective on the “wave of noise” that emanated from the stage; it infected him and prompted him to seek out underground art. This terrific short communicates that effectively with the narration, the images, and of course, the music.

Read the full review by Film International here: http://filmint.nu/?p=24987

June 20, 2018

Getty Image via Roy Rochlin at Tribeca - Our talented team!

Red carpet shot of our team at Tribeca - courtesy Getty images. Lou would be proud :)

June 20, 2018

International screenings, laurels and competition archives

It's hard to keep up since we've been traveling all over the world with our film. Attached is a little collection of promotional materials from the festivals we might have missed on the site. Enjoy! 

P.S. Always check our Facebook page for up to the minute information: https://www.facebook.com/TheVelvetUndergroundPlayedAtMyHighSchool/

June 20, 2018

International screenings, laurels and competition archives

Number two of seven

June 20, 2018

International screenings, laurels and competition archives

Number three of seven

June 20, 2018

International screenings, laurels and competition archives

Number four of seven

June 20, 2018

International screenings, laurels and competition archives

Number five of seven

June 20, 2018

International screenings, laurels and competition archives

Number six of seven

June 20, 2018

International screenings, laurels and competition archives

Number seven of seven

June 07, 2018

Lighthouse International Film Festival

One night only! Director scheduled to attend screening. Join us Thursday, June 7th at 5pm for our opening shorts block at the LBIF where we kick off the festival with "The Velvet Underground Played at My High School"

The Velvet Underground Played at My High School has been selected to screen at the Lighthouse International Film Festival in Long Beach Island, NJ. This year's festival dates are June 7 - 10. The Velvet Underground Played at My High School screens Thursday, June 7th at 5pm. Taking place on Long Beach Island, NJ -- one of the East Coast's most popular surfing destinations -- the festival celebrates three days of new, exciting and challenging films in honor of Long Beach Island's historic Barnegat Lighthouse. Please visit their website and Facebook Event for more info. 

http://www.lighthousefilmfestival.org/index.html

https://www.facebook.com/events/251951095372112/

May 08, 2018

Best of Tribeca Film Festival Rating by Senior Film Critic Kurt Brokaw

Jannelli was one of a handful of what he calls “eyewitnesses and survivors” of The Velvet Underground’s initial set at his Summit, New Jersey high school in the winter of ’65.  Tony’s own band, The Noblemen, hadn’t been having much success, and he and his classmates went one night to hear a local group, The Myddle Class, which was getting airplay with a 45rpm single on Atco of  Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s “Free As The Wind.”

Pietri and his crew of digital inkers are illustrating all this with grungy, inky-black strokes and slashes.  It’s guerrilla animation.  Before the headlining Myddle Class came on, in wandered Lou, John, Maureen and Sterling and cranked up “Venus in Furs.” “They were scratchy and out-of-tune, with an electric violin droning and a drummer who played standing up,” recalls Tony. “They sounded like someone killing a cat. We thought: ‘Who are these people? Are they playing a joke on us?’”

The animation is twitching away. We’re watching smeared, rotoscoped footage of Reed, Cale, Tucker and Morrison grinding along.  The teen walkouts start building.  Then the band segues into a signature anthem,  “Heroin.”  Jannelli and his classmates can’t believe their eyes and ears: “We were told in health class, ‘don’t smoke marijuana, it will lead to heroin,’” he groans, “and here’s a band actually singing about it.” The negative responses grew:  “A roar of disbelief swelled to a mighty howl of outrage and bewilderment.” Jannelli confides how a handful of admirers, himself included, hunkered down at the back, finding the experience “dangerously cool.”  It was their first exposure to “underground art…and it came to us, we didn’t even have to ask for it.”

This is one irresistible arty and dangerously cool short. Peitri’s wonderfully splotched and blotched imagery reveals a different coming-of-age experience for kids who never found their way back to the jazz bins in retail outlets like  Sam Goody’s and Tower Records,  but huddled around stacks of 45 singles that were closer to the listening booths.

May 07, 2018

Announcement - Eight New Festivals on the Horizon!

We are so thrilled with our review from Tribeca. Thanks so much to Patrick Hickey Jr. and a big thanks to everyone at the festival. We have eight more festivals on the horizon, both nationally and internationally. We couldn't be any prouder of our film and the reception that it is receiving.

Here's a taste of what's in store for early summer:

Seattle International Film Festival - Running May 17 to June 10. (We screen on May 24 at 7 PM)

Sydney Film Festival - June 6 to June 17

Animafest Zagreb - June 4 to June 9 (We screen on June 5)

Vero Beach Wine and Film Festival - June 7 to June 10

AFI Docs - June 13 to June 17

Annecy - June 11 to June 16

Palm Springs Shortfest - June 19 to June 25

Lighthouse International Film Festival - June 7 to June 10

Full details with exact screening dates and times will be announced shortly. We hope to see you on the road with us!