LOW DOWN, based on Amy-Jo Albany's powerful memoir of growing up in the care of her gifted, tormented and frequently absent musician father, the bebop jazz pianist Joe Albany, focuses on the years 1974 to 1976, when Amy (Elle Fanning) had few resources other than the love of her aging grandmother (Glenn Close) and a ragtag bunch of Hollywood outcasts and eccentrics that were her friends.
While Joe (John Hawkes) struggles to find gigs, maintain his heroin addiction, and stay out of jail, Amy grows up quickly in a single-room occupancy hotel on the fringes of Hollywood. There she bears witness to heartbreak and tragedy as well as soaring beauty and joy — in the jazz music that shaped her, the city and its denizens that nourished her, and the loving bond with her father and grandmother that kept her alive.
Shot on 16-millimeter film using anamorphic lenses to create the gritty textures of a bygone era, director Jeff Preiss returns to the same evocative locale as LET'S GET LOST, the 1988 Bruce Weber documentary on which he served as cinematographer. Featuring a stellar supporting cast including Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Flea, Caleb Landry Jones, Tim Daly and Taryn Manning, LOW DOWN locates cinematic soulfulness at the margins of society, where music, improvisation, craftsmanship — and love — coalesce to form the raw materials for the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive.