Khu.éex':The Magic of Noise

: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Post-Production


Native American rock band Khu.éex', faces the loss of two members. In ecstatic live performance their passion and spirit transcends.


Experience the journey of Khu.éex’, a Northwest rock band that combines Native American culture with jazz, funk and blues. Founded by Tlingit artist Preston Singletary and funk music legend Bernie Worrell. They overcome tragic losses, engage with activism and ultimately connect us all with the universal power of music.


Michael Kleven and Elke Hautala both went back to school as adults to become filmmakers driven by a passion for the medium of film that had existed since childhood. Their peripatetic journeys included a multitude of artistic endeavors from modern dance to singing opera to acting on the stage that have all helped direct them towards documentary subjects rich in creativity, intellect and historical significance. Art, social justice, cultural identity, gender and history are some of the themes at the root of their work. The filmmakers feel very strongly about working closely with the protagonists of their films to distill the essence and meaning of the stories they have to share. Their milieu is non-fiction filmmaking that delights the eye, lifts the spirit and enlightens the mind. Michael and Elke met through the recommendation of a mutual friend. They soon found that they shared a similar worldview and that as filmmakers they had complimentary skills. Their first short film together - “A Modern Creation Story” explored Preston Singletary’s process in creating a series of seven foot tall crystal totem pole based on myths and symbols within his Tlingit culture. They immediately found that their collaboration was a productive one. Kleven brings an artistic perspective, technical experience and a cinematic eye with a talent for directing. Hautala has a love of organization matched with the ability to envision story threads and a passion for connecting with people. Both filmmakers share a unique ability to consider an audiences experience even as they coax the elements of the story into being. Hautala has always been driven by a longing for emotional experience as a way to become closer to humanity. From early experiences with opera and theater to sitting in the one art house theater in tiny Williamsport, PA being transported by films such as “Farewell my Concubine". Creating as authentic a connection as possible to better relate and understand to those who are different from you is a key component but she also admires cinematic beauty whether it’s in the camera angles, music or color. She is influenced by inspirational character driven pieces such as Iris, innovative historical films such as Man on Wire and stunning art films like Wim Wenders’ Pina. She still believes that art can make a difference and hopes to change the world one frame at a time. Kleven began his artistic journey both on the stage and behind the scenes working in theater at WWU and Fairhaven College. His desire to explore the world took him first on an epic hitchhiking adventure down the west coast to San Franscisco, LA and then on to Dallas during the summer of ’84. The next year he put together a tour of Europe, meeting long lost family on an island in Norway, exploring as many small towns and capitals as possible, finally ending up being cast in an Opera film directed by Franco Zeffirelli on the Isle of Crete. It was when his family relocated from Washington to Alaska that Kleven began to appreciate the deep history, culture and struggles faced by Alaskan Natives. During a period of his life working with mental health patients he realized a deep desire to tell stories that spoke to the more essential and vital elements of the human condition. In 2008 when the opportunity to go to film school opened up he jumped at it. It was the dream of the lifetime. Here he learned the nuts and bolts of film production and the importance of teamwork and collaboration.


Michael-Peter Kane Kleven - Director/Cinematographer

Kleven’s creative career began with work in theater, radio and photography He has produced successful video and film projects for a number of Northwest artists and business owners. He is especially proud of his work as a cinematographer and location sound recordist. He combines creativity, an artistic sensibility and a clear focus on technical elements for superb media. An Iatse 488 sound mixer he has worked on many productions with clients including Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon and the Discovery Channel. His directing and cinematography skills have been honed for five years with Heartstone Studios the company he founded with Elke Hautala. With a focus on the non-profit, arts and educational arena, they have created over 15 film projects together from short form commercial to their first feature documentary that will be debuting in 2019.

Elke Hautala - Producer/Editor

Filmmaker, host, media creator - Elke Hautala is a creative professional with a dedicated positive attitude and a myriad of experience in the entertainment industry. With a background that includes work as both a performer and an administrative professional for companies such as 20th Century Fox and Starbucks, Elke has now parlayed her unique skill set into a filmmaking career that includes special interest interviews, oral histories and international documentary work. A Mary Gates grant recipient/scholar in 2012/2013 and an award winning creative non-fiction writer, she has a passion for the intersections between art, performance, history and gender studies. Her goal is to connect the world through visual storytelling. Since 2013, she has combined her talents with director/cinematographer Michael Kleven with great success. Their production company, Heartstone Studios, has created over 15 media projects together with a focus on the non-profit and educational arenas. Their short film "A Modern Creation Story" premiered at the Local Sightings Film Festival and is available for sale at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma. Their documentaries Khu.éex': The Magic of Noise and Visions in the Fire were recently awarded a 2017 GAP Grant and a 2018 City Artist award respectively.

Preston Singletary - Creative Consultant/Executive Producer

A world renowned glass artist who moonlights as a bass player. He studied at the Pilchuck Glass school and has gone on to be an innovative pioneer with his combination of Native American culture and European glass making traditions. He has won numerous awards and exhibited everywhere from the Museum of Glass in Tacoma to the National Museum of the American Indian. His work has been featured in diverse collections from the British Museum to the Detroit Institute of Arts. As one of the founding members of the band Khu.éex', his passion for music has had the opportunity to soar in recent years with performances from Upstream Music Festival to the 90th anniversary of the Paramount Theater.

John W. Comerford - Executive Producer

John W. Comerford is President of Paradigm Studio, an independent motion picture production company based in the Pacific Northwest. Recently, he produced the four-star (iTunes) documentary feature film and series entitled Icons Among Us: Jazz in the Present Tense. The next step for John is the release of the critically acclaimed Wallflower (Variety), a true-to-life story based on events surrounding a mass-shooting framed in Seattle's electronic dance music community. He co-wrote and co-produced the award winning Around the Fire (Giffoni Film Festival, Best Picture) that has been distributed worldwide. The picture is a music-driven drama, centered on issues of adolescent experimentation. Distributors and exhibitors of Mr. Comerford's work include Showtime, Starz/Encore, Public Television, Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon, Cannes Film Market, Seattle International Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, South By Southwest Film Festival and EuroArts. In addition, his work has been exhibited and supported by institutions such as The Smithsonian, Jazz at Lincoln Center, President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities and presented in Hollywood as part of AFI Fest's opening night red carpet.


Connect With The Filmmakers:


The Gotham Film & Media Institute - Fiscal Sponsorship Program 2024
2017 GAP Grant from Artist Trust (Seattle, WA)
2018 Nights at the Neptune Preview Screening and Performance (Seattle, WA)
2020 4 Culture Art Grant (Seattle, WA)


Help promote my fundraising campaign
Put our donation widget on your website

Get Widget Code



The Gotham Logo


© 2024 The Gotham. All Rights Reserved.
   Design by Andrew Martin

The Gotham Film & Media Institute is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to finding, developing and celebrating the people and projects that shape the future of story.

Learn more about us or become a member