Dig It!

The endless reincarnation of a melody, its dream, its composer, his muse and all the cats in the world.

In “Dig It”, a tribute to the friendship between Jazz patron Baroness Pannonica “Nica” de Koenigswarter-Rothschild and composer and pianist Thelonious Sphere, we experience Monks final dream, as Nica watches over him. Reminiscing the many adventures they experienced together, Nica introduces the life they lived, the cats they cared for and all the wishes she collected from the Hep Cats (nickname for Jazz musicians) that came to play and relax in her home.

Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter-Rothschild (1913-1988) had a life that defies imagination. Her father was a British member of an international Jewish banking dynasty, an avid entomologist who named his daughter Pannonica after a species of butterfly. Nica obtained her pilot’s license when she was still young. She joined the Free French Resistance during WWII. On the so-called North African Field Trips, she served as a courier for the Allied and was a coroner on the many battlefields. After the war, Nica moved to New York to follow her greatest passion: jazz music. Surrounded by more than a hundred cats and surrounded by just as many Hep Cats, Nica has been called the Jazz Baroness. She is the muse and patron of a whole generation of jazz greats. Night after night she drives from club to club in her Bentley. The night Charlie “Bird” Parker died in her hotel room and its aftermath is one of Nica’s most traumatic experiences. Thelonious Monk, along with his wife Nelie and two children, lives in Nica’s house for twenty years. Their close friendship is exceptionally strong and much discussed. Thelonious Monk’s Pannonica, Horace Silver’s Nica’s Dream, Gigi Gryces’ Nica’s Tempo, Sonny Clark’s My Dream Of Nica, and others are among the two dozen pieces dedicated to Nica. One of Nica’s favorite projects was to ask each of the (jazz) musicians she met what their wishes were. They received three wishes from her. One of the main inspirations and motivations for developing this video was a compilation of over 300 wishes released in 2008.

  • Gabriel Lester
  • Matthew Antezzo
  • Ella Wijnschenk- Oesterman
    Key Cast
    "Pannonica de Koenigswarter"
  • Felix Burleson
    Key Cast
    "Thelonious Monk"
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    24 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    March 12, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Netherlands, United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • LI-MA
    Country: Netherlands
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Gabriel Lester

Gabriel Lester was born in Amsterdam (1972). He has lived in Brussels, New York, Shanghai and Stockholm and currently lives and works in Amsterdam. His artworks consist of installations, performances and films. Other activities include commissioned artworks for the public space and teaching at the fine arts department of the Sandberg institute, the master course at the Amsterdam Rietveld academy.

Lester’s artwork, films and installations originate from a desire to tell stories and construct environments that support these stories or propose their own narrative interpretation. In early years this led to writing prose and composing electronic music. Later, after studying experimental cinema at the St. Lucas academy in Brussels, and eventually fine arts at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, his artworks became what could be typified as cinematographic, without necessarily employing film or video. Like cinema, Lester’s practice has come to embrace all imaginable media and occupy both time and space. The artworks propose a tension span and are either implicitly narrative, explicitly visual or both at once. These artworks seldom convey any explicit message or singular idea, but rather propose ways to relate to the world, how it is presented and what mechanisms and components constitute our perception and understanding of it.

Add Director Biography