It can be hard for younger siblings to step out of the shadows and get noticed, especially when big brother is a rock star.
Tom Berninger was still living with his parents in Cincinnati, OH, when his older brother Matt — lead singer of the burgeoning rock band The National — invited him to go on their international tour. Tom was hired as a roadie, but he recorded the entire experience and put it together into a documentary, "Mistaken for Strangers."
Berninger said, "In between selling merchandise and stocking towels and food and checking guest lists before every show, I filmed everything I could." The tour took him overseas for the first time in his life, and he got to see a side of the band neither he nor the public were ever exposed to. He said, "I was putting my own spin on a band that had a reputation for being gloomy."
His brother Matt, who left home from college when Tom was just nine, felt the tour would be a way for the pair to connect as adults. Matt said, "He had a way of relieving the anxiety that surrounded some of the big shows, and he made us all laugh." But ultimately, life on the road didn't suit Tom and he was sent home. That didn't stop him from working on the film, though. And eventually he paired down over 200 hours of footage into a feature film about not just the band or his brother, but about his own place in the world.
"Mistaken for Strangers" had its world premiere at last year's Tribeca Film Festival where it was highly acclaimed. Michael Moore called it "one of the best music documentaries I’ve ever seen," and the New York Observer said it was "the best documentary we've seen all year."
"Mistaken for Strangers" will be in theaters and available on demand on Mar. 28.