Stephin Merritt is a singer and songwriter best known as the leader of the indie rock band the Magnetic Fields. While the Magnetic Fields haven't had to worry about the perils of stardom just yet, their fans are loyal and wildly enthusiastic, and they're a favorite of critics, who've described Merritt as a contemporary Cole Porter
for his witty, literate, and sardonic take on the game of love. Merritt's own expressive but froggy vocals are at once an ideal vehicle for his lyrics and one of the reasons his music appeals to a discriminating cult but hasn't broken through to the mass audience. Filmmakers Kerthy Fix and Gail O'Hara spent ten years sporadically following Merritt with their cameras, and Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields
is the result, a documentary about his music and the man who lurks behind it. In addition to footage of Merritt on-stage with his band and talking at length about his work, Strange Powers
features interviews with some of his better-known fans (including Peter Gabriel
, Neil Gaiman
, and Sarah Silverman
) and explores the complex working relationship between Merritt and Claudia Gonson, his manager and bandmate. Strange Powers
received its world premiere at the 2010 South by Southwest Film Festival.