“Mistaken For Strangers” Comes To Cinema Arts Centre – June 30 | A Chat with Tom Berninger

By Raj Tawney


Movies That Rock (Poster)

On Monday, June 30th, at 7:30 PM, Cinema Arts Centre and SPARKBOOM are teaming up to bring you an evening of film and music – but no, this isn’t Mamma Mia in the slightest. This is a compelling documentary, featuring Indie Rock band, The National….But wait, it’s so much more than a typical “Rock Doc”.

The film is directed and co-starred by Tom Berninger, brother of The National’s lead singer, Matt. Like many brothers, Tom and Matt are opposites, yet when Tom joins The National on tour, their co-existence nearly creates a case study on Sibling Relations.  This documentary is more than just a faceless cameraman following “a day in the life” of a successful rock band.

I recently spoke with Tom and asked him some questions about how this film has changed his life. We also joked about his disdain for Indie Rock and his love for Heavy Metal, which you will observe in the film…

RT:   How does it feel to be referred to as “Director, Tom Berninger” these days?

TB: I’m honored when I hear it. But I’m not totally comfortable with that title. It sounds like I’m more important that I really am or than I feel. The movie was a total collaborative process with my producers and other editors. We all made it. I may have had more to do with it than anybody else but I believe the reason people connect to my story is because of my honesty. And that only came from me feeling pretty average, with nothing to loose.

RT: Have family dinners/gatherings changed?

TB: No. I may have a movie under my belt, but I’m still a little brother. I still get wedgies, at 34.


RT: Do you have any appreciation for Indie Rock after being a roadie and surrounded by the genre?

TB: Sure I guess. I respect it. The genre has given me a little career that I never had before. And all the bands I’ve met were super cool, but, I still don’t listen to it. Maybe someday I will, when I’m old and have had a stroke and unable to move or talk and won’t be able to tell anybody to turn it off.

RT: Pick 1 Heavy Metal band, covering a Children’s TV show theme song (I’m still hoping for a Reading Rainbow cover).

TB: I think the late, great, Ronnie James Dio would have done a fine version of Reading Rainbow. 

RT:  You don’t have to be a fan of The National to enjoy this film. Why do you think it’s resonating with so many people?

TB: Again, I think maybe it’s my honesty. And maybe the movie gives some people hope. They’re a lot of people out there like me, in their late 20’s early 30’s still feeling a little lost. They can’t help but compare themselves to others, their more successful peers. And that’s a depressing spiral. And it’s paralyzing. And I did that all through my 20’s. But as soon as I stop being so self absorbed, a weight was lifted. I guess I settled for myself and that’s when I found a voice. 

Watch the trailer here:

Cinema Arts Centre and SPARKBOOM are proud to present “Movies That Rock”, featuring a new documentary “Mistaken For Strangers”, including Director/Star, Tom Berninger LIVE via Skype.

RSVP on FB here.

(*Includes documentary, after-party, 2 drink tickets)

9:30PM – Featuring drinks + a live performance by Cloud Caverns and Radio Free J-Ro from WUSB 90.1FM spinning!


559866_864324485006_2116370132_n Raj Tawney is head of PR & Media for SPARKBOOM.  He’s also a radio host and reporter. Recently, he was Director of New Media at Book Revue in Huntington, NY, where he interviewed notable figures, from Jessica Alba to Jodi Picoult. He is a dedicated supporter of the Arts and Music community in Long Island.


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