The Sound Unseen Festival, Oct. 7-16

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City Pages reviews the films, Terri Sutton riffs on docs about dead dudes, and the Sound Unseen festival site otherwise runs down its full schedule of movies and music from Friday, Oct. 7 through Sunday, Oct. 16. To sort it all out, here's an opinionated guide to everything essential about the fest (and you might as well mark your calendars now for Shawn Hewitt at the Entry on Saturday, DJ Spooky's live "remix" of The Birth of a Nation at the Varsity on Monday, and Scene Minneapolis, 1977-1984 at the Oak Street on Thursday, Oct. 13). All films screen at Oak Street Cinema unless otherwise noted...


Friday, Oct. 7 (Opening Night)

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T. Rex fans in Minneapolis/St. Paul, tonight is your freakfest. Some of you might own the 1972 cult film Born to Boogie on DVD, but the film screens here in 35mm (Dylan Hicks digs it), preceded by a cool local band, Little Man (more here), and followed by a "T. Rex Trashy Prom" at Four Seasons Dance Studio near Loring Park, featuring the Shim Sham Shufflers, a dance contest, and more.



Saturday, Oct. 8

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With a sound so fresh, you'll remember where you were when you first heard it, Shawn Hewitt and the National Strike are the sort of unlikely indie-R&B act that must come from Canada: The Soft Society (Universal) is like Rufus Wainwright playing D'Angelo, or Marc Dorsey covering Radiohead, and otherwise fits Hewitt's own "prog soul" description. The band performs at the 7th St. Entry preceded by a screening of Canada Now!, featuring rock videos from Hewitt, Broken Social Scene, Death From Above 1979, the New Pornographers, and more. With openers the Swiss Army, Digitata, and Beatrix Jar.

Otherwise, camp out today and Sunday (between noon and 9:30 p.m.) at the Walker Art Center for a series of classic and bizarre musical films, curated by Christian Marclay. Highlights include Walt Disney's Fantasia in 35mm and "Skeleton Dance" on 16mm, rarely screened Mauricio Kagel films on video, a Sonic Youth re-creation of "Piano Piece #13" on video, Peter Moore's 1964 short Stockhausen's Originale: Doubletakes on 16mm, and the four-and-a-half-hour Rameau's Nephew by Diderot (Thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen on 16mm, which Rob digs (that screens on Sunday at 7:00 p.m.) Here's a full schedule of the two-day festival-within-a-festival.

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Also essential is 930 F Streeet, a 2005 video doc about the Washington, D.C. venue the 9:30 Club (the First Avenue of D.C.), which screens at 9:30 p.m., and again on Oct. 13. One particular former 18-year-old went to the club many times at its old location circa 1988-1990, and it permanently shaped his ideals for multi-culti punk/hip-hop clubgoing. The vid shows with a 2003 Mission of Burma video doc I haven't seen.

There's also the Townes Van Zandt 2005 documentary on 35 mm screening today at 7:30 p.m. (Terri wrote about it).

Watch the 1979 reunion of Count Basie, Big Joe Turner, Jay McShann, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker on 35mm in 1979's Last of the Blue Devils, which screens at 5:00 p.m. (as well as Sunday at 3:30 p.m.) (Though this, too, is available on DVD.)

The 2004 DJ documentary Put the Needle to the Record (which Matos wasn't nuts about) screens at 7:00 p.m. on video at the Bell (and again on Oct. 11 at Oak Street).

There's also 2004's Isn't This a Time, a sort of video update of Wasn't That a Time (Michael seemed to dig it) featuring the great Pete Seeger and others, screening today as well.

Finally, for cool family fare, consider today's 1:15 p.m. screening of The Point, the 1971 16mm animated "classic" narrated by Ringo Starr.

Sunday, October 9

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Hicksy likes 2005's Tragedy: The Story of Queensbridge (screening at 9:00 p.m. and again October 14 at 10:00 p.m.) a video about the notorious New York housing project that produced so much great hip hop.

Otherwise, Christian Marclay's Sound Art Cinema series continues at the Walker (see above).

Demko likes the 2005 video Shakespeare Was a Big George Jones Fan (which screens at 5:45 p.m. at the Bell, and again at Oak Street on Oct. 16). More on Jack Clement here.

For its important and largely untreated subject, Stranger: Bernie Worrell on Earth seems worthy. The 2004 video doc protrays the great P-Funk keyboardist (who hit on my then-girlfriend before his last show at First Avenue), and screens at 5:30 p.m. today (and again on Tuesday). Dylan lamented the absence of the man himself and much of his music, but it could still be a nice slice of funk history. Screens with the appealing-sounding 2005 video The Human Hambone.

Hipsters will descend upon As Smart as They Are, a 2005 video documentary about the McSweeney's house band, which should play to a pre-sold audience of McSweeney's enthusiasts and might be as funny. It screens at 7:30 p.m., and again on Oct. 10.

Thom York fans, meanwhile, probably shouldn't miss a screening of Radiohead Television, the 2004 vidfest.

There's also an afterparty at Pizza Luce downtown, with reggae DJ Tony Paul.

Monday, Oct. 10

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I'm still wrapping my head around this one: DJ Spooky's ReBirth of a Nation features the great illbient DJ orchestrating a live, multi-media "remix" (on three screens) of D.W. Griffith's 1915 silent film "classic" The Birth of a Nation, a founding work of cinema and a white supremacist document for the ages (based on the book The Clansman by Thomas F. Dixon, Jr., which heroizes the KKK). As someone who just paged through hundreds of local newspapers from 1915 and 1916 while researching a history of tonight's venue, the Varsity Theater (which also opened in 1915), I can say with confidence that The Birth of a Nation was hugely popular in Minneapolis, just as it was across the U.S., enjoying a long run downtown with prominent advertisements. The ranks of the Ku Klux Klan swelled as a result of the success, as did the popularity of "movies" (then still taking quotes). By 1923, the Pioneer Press was reporting the presence of a KKK unit in St. Paul, and a University of Minnesota's homecoming parade had included a KKK float (read more here). By now Griffith's claim on history is seen mainly by film students (MN Film Arts' Search and Rescue project recently unearthed a print at the U of M) and others curious about the work's anti-inspiration for Spike Lee. The "remix" features a new soundtrack and new imagery, so look for a review in Culture to Go. Showtime at 7:30 p.m. at the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown, with an after-party at the same club featuring Spooky, DJ Nikoless, and Dessa's duo with Jessy Greene, Urban Ivy.

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Otherwise, Britt loved the 2005 35mm film Favela Rising, which screens at the same time at Oak Street, and which Britt describes as a Brazilian "hybrid of Hotel Rwanda, Gandhi, Fame, and Walking Tall." But at least this screens there again on October 13: Go to the Varsity tonight.

Same for Rough Cut and Ready Dubbed, a 1982 video (also on DVD) and newly restored obscuro punk document screened with Chuck Statler's accompanying James Chance video (sweetening the deal) at 9:45 p.m. at Bryant-Lake Bowl. It screens again at Oak Street on Oct. 12, so go to the Varsity tonight.

Either way, you can still make a 5:00 p.m. screening of Spectrum: Minnesota Soundtracks Vol. 3, the latest and by far the best collection of locally-produced music videos associated with the event, which recalls the inspiration of MTV's toddler years (and the wildly varied budgets), with vids finding visual and conceptual hooks as well as pop ones. One turns Heiruspecs into hip-hop icons just by letting each musician get face time (who knew rapper Felix should have belonged in Handsome Boy Modeling School?). There's rich entertainment just in seeing otherwise familiar faces from the local scene (Vox Vermillion, Chariots, Revolver Modele, Ela, Jessy Green, the Soviettes) look glammer than life on the big screen. (Here's the Star Tribune preview.)

Meanwhile, a screening of Too Late Blues offers the opportunity to see the 1961 Cassavetes film on 35mm. It screens at 9:15.

There's also a Death Cab For Cutie 2005 video doc screening at 5:00 p.m. at Bryant-Lake Bowl, but it screens again at the same venue on Oct. 12 and it's already on DVD (though this has timing going for it: the band plays the same evening at First Avenue).

Tuesday, Oct. 11

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Here's the kind of event these festivals exist to bring. Screening only once, tonight at 7:30 p.m., Scene Minneapolis: 1977-1986 collects vintage local rock footage by Mike Rivard, Craig Sinard, and Chuck Statler from the late '70s and early '80s, of bands including Things That Fall Down, the Psychenauts, the Wallets, Johnny Rey, the Suburbs, and more. Let's hope this includes the Replacements footage Rivard has never released. Screens with the 2005 premiere of Soul Asylum: Never Too Late, Never Too Soon from Harder/Fuller Films, which features long-lost concert footage shot in December 1987.

Otherwise, the Bernie Worrell 2004 video doc screens again at the Bell tonight.

Wednesday, Oct. 12

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This could be amazing: Search and Rescue's music edition digs up a treasure trove of vintage 16mm footage from the archives of the University of Minnesota. Screens at 9:40 at the Bryant-Lake Bowl.


Meanwhile, Life in a Box, a 2005 video doc about the gay country duo Y'All, actually sounds fun.

And Rough Cut and Ready Dubbed (see above) re-screens at Oak Street.

Thursday, Oct. 13

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Terri didn't care for this 2005 video doc on grunge icon/Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood, Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story, which screens at 7:30 at the Bell. But it's a subject of inherent interest to a lot of locals, who for years viewed the Seattle scene like a sister.

Otherwise, Gordon Parks's 1976 Leadbelly movie screens on 35mm. (The Leadbelly exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was the highlight by far, so I'm excited about this.)

There's also a screening of the 2004 video TV Party, a vintage punk document that has not (so far as I know) reached DVD.

For some of the best local bands (and drink specials), check out the 2024 Records Showcase (here's the label site) at the Varsity Theater, featuring Valet and more.

Friday, Oct. 14
Punk Rock Holocaust seemed worth seeing just for Atmosphere, but Lindsey actually likes the 2003 video doc based on the 2003 Warped Tour. It screens at midnight.

There's also Amazing Grace: Jeff Buckley, a 2004 video doc about the singer, screening at 7:30 at the Bell.

Saturday, Oct. 15

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The weekend's musical highlight is the Chairkickers' Union Party (here's the new label site!) hosted by Low's Alan Sparhawk (pictured) at the 331 Club in NE, with Paul Metzger, The Keepaways, No Wait Wait, If Thousands, and "DJ Sparhawk."

Otherwise, the 16mm Mingus: Charles Mingus 1968 sounds like the kind of lost nugget these festivals are great for catching. It screens at 6:00 p.m.

Britt likes the rare doc La Fabrik-K: The Cuban Hip-Hop Factory, a 2004 video about Cuban hip hop, which screens once at 7:30 p.m.

More family fun: The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T also sounds good--I like the idea of a cult 1953 kids movie on 35mm.

Sunday, Oct. 16 (Closing Night)
At last, chill time at the Wrap Party in Robot Love, on 27th and Lyndale, with music by Dave Wesley of Sursumcorda and Minneapolis musicman Tom Rimarcik. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.



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