Shirley Novick (l) and Lou Reed talk in Red Shirley
Shirley Novick (l) and Lou Reed talk in Red Shirley

A film made by Lou Reed subverts the Velvet Underground frontman's rock'n'roll wildman reputation by focusing on a key moment in 20th-century history and the efforts of refugees to flee the Nazi regime.

Red Shirley, a film by the legendary New York singer-songwriter, is a series of intimate interviews with his 99-year-old cousin about her life.

Subjects covered in conversations between Shirley Novick and Reed include her experience of World War I and fleeing the Nazi regime after the start of the Second World War.

Reed claimed the film project was an effort to capture a slice of history before it slipped away for good.

He said: "I realised if I didn't do this, a connection to a lot of things would be lost forever. So there was great impetus to do this."

Watch Lou Reed's film Red Shirley on the SnagFilm online streaming service by clicking here.

Co-directed with Ralph Gibson, Red Shirley surfaced at the 2010 Vienna International Film Festival and then at the Jewish Film Festival a year later.

Red Shirley flies in the face of Reed's image as a nihilist interested only in himself. He died from liver problems following a failed transplant.

Before his death, Reed revealed ambitions to make another film about martial arts.

He told the Washington Post: "The only other thing I would like to do is make a movie about martial arts. Travel around to different teachers and tournaments, compare techniques and training."