As we become increasingly aware of the scope of neurodiversity – not least in the music sector – a new documentary entitled The Musical Mind brings together four of the country’s leading musicians to explore their creative minds and personal lives. They are rock singer-songwriter Daniel Johns, songwriter-pianist Ben Folds, and classical pianists David Helfgott and Simon Tedeschi.

David Helfgott in The Musical Mind

Each is uniquely neurodivergent, all are connected in different ways to the film’s director Scott Hicks.

Helfgott is the subject of Hicks’ Academy Award-nominated biopic Shine. It was Tedeschi who supplied Helfgott’s hands in the film, playing the piano by threading through the actor’s sleeves. In 1999, Johns – then leading his band Silverchair – collaborated with Helfgott in 1999 on the song Emotion Sickness. The two have been friends ever since.

Folds’ connection to Hicks comes in the form of another recent Hicks-directed film project, My Name’s Ben Folds – i play piano (also the Adelaide Film Festival’s closing-night film).

The stories of the four artists are themselves connected by portraits, created on camera, by artist Loribelle Spirovski.

The film opens in cinemas from 24 November. Hicks will be the special guest at Q&A screenings of the film at the following locations:

18 November (Cinema Nova, Carlton Melbourne), 19 November (Event Bondi, Sydney), 20 November (Event Glendale, Newcastle) and 26 November at Palace Nova Eastend, Adelaide.

Contribute to Limelight and support independent arts journalism.