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The first question that people have asked me about this year’s 14th annual Sound Unseen music/film/art festival, starting Wednesday, November 13 through Sunday, November 17, is: Why the move to St. Paul? My answer is easy: I grew up in St. Paul and I have been wanting to see a film festival there. 2013 seemed like the right time for Sound Unseen to make the move. The festival had been predominantly in Minneapolis for close to the past decade, where the festival has taken place at various venues like The Ritz, Oak St. Cinema (R.I.P.), Riverview, St. Anthony Main, Cedar Cultural Center and the Trylon microcinema.
Moving the majority of Sound Unseen to St. Paul will be an exciting opportunity for many people to check out venues like the historic Landmark Center, where we will be hosting our opening night on Wednesday, November 13 at 7 p.m. and showing the Midwest premiere of Every Everything: The Music, Life and Times of Grant Hart, directed by Gorman Bechard, who previously helmed another local music product, The Replacements 2011 documentary, Color Me Obsessed. Bechard, producer Jan Radder and musician/subject, Grant Hart, best known as the former drummer of 1980’s rock/punk Twin Cities fixture, Husker Du., will be present at the screening and on hand afterwards for a Q&A. Every Everything explores Hart’s life post Du career, as he went on to be one of the most engaging and important solo musicians in Twin Cities and shows Hart at work at his most recently released record, The Argument, a 20-song album released this past July. Following the screening, Hart along with openers, The Greycoats, will be performing at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall, where all the music concerts will take place during the five-day festival, a block away from the Landmark Center. Tickets for the screening also include a ticket to the concert afterwards. Otherwise, you can buy a separate ticket for the concert only.
Sound Unseen will again have screenings at the Trylon microcinema starting Thursday, November 14 through Sunday, November 17, with highlights including the Midwest premiere of Pleased to Meet Me, a narrative starring musicians John Doe (from the L.A. punk band, X) and singer/songwriter Aimee Mann as an ex-couple who team up to put together an eclectic group of musicians to write and perform one song within 24 hours. Director Archie Borders and producer, Mike Fitzer, will be present at the screening on Friday, November 15 at 9 p.m. Director Tim Cawley, a former Minnesota resident, will also be present at the screening for his documentary From Nothing, Something (Saturday, November 16, 7 p.m.), which follows Sara Quin from Tegan & Sara, comedian Maria Bamford, Little Children novelist Tom Perrotta and artist, Huma Bhabha.
The featured attraction at the Trylon during Sound Unseen could very well be the three screening, six-film tribute to legendary documentarian Les Blank (probably best known for directing the 1982 doc, Burden of Dreams, about the nightmare filming of Werner Herzog’s, Fitzcarraldo) who passed away this past April. Blank directed close to forty films, mostly short music documentaries. This tribute was curated by former MN Film Arts and Sound Unseen programmer Adam Sekuler.
Another new venue where Sound Unseen will be holding screenings is at McNally Smith College of Music, directly across the street from the majestic Fitzgerald Theater. Screenings at the McNally Smith will start on Thursday, November 14 and it will kick off with the Midwest premiere of the Portland based feature City Baby on Thursday, November 14 at 9 p.m. City Baby, about a young woman unsure of what to do next when her best girlfriend decides to move to New York with her new boyfriend, features an all-Portland soundtrack and even features a cameo from Stephen Malkmus of Pavement fame. Director and co-writer David Morgan and lead actress and co-writer Cora Benesh will be present for the screening.
Other film highlights screening at McNally Smith include the Midwest premiere of Filmage: The Story of Descendents/ALL on Friday, November 15 at 7 p,m., about the pioneering punk rock band that have been playing music since the late 70s and still going strong today. Co-director Deedle Lacour will be present at the screening.
Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton: This is Stones Throw Records is a documentary about the influential record label Stones Throw started by founder Peanut Butter Wolf in early 1990s that launched the careers of Madlib, MF Doom, J Dilla, and Mayer Hawthorne and screens on Friday, November 15, at 9 p.m.
The MN premiere of the locally produced film Death to Prom directed Matt Sternerson and Jeremy Wilker on Saturday, November 16, 7 p.m. has a John Hughes 80s romantic comedy feel to it, but with a gay twist. The film featuring an all-Minnesota soundtrack by Cloud Cult, Red Pens, L’Assassins, and Pink Mink and entirely shot in the Twin Cities. Both Stenerson and Wilker along with select cast members will be present at the screening.
The closing night film, Mistaken for Strangers on Sunday, November 17 at 7 p.m. follows the highly acclaimed indie-rock band The National. Singer Matt Berlinger’s younger metalhead, amateur horror film director, Tom, decided to document his journey on tour with the band and found out life on the road is not as glamorous as he imagined.
Also, Sound Unseen will be hosting a special event at Summit Brewing with guest Ian Rans from Drinking with Ian fame to help co-host the famed 1960-70s game show The Match Game on Thursday, November 14 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Seating at the event is very limited and is free for passholders who purchase a limited All Access Pass. Otherwise there is a suggested donation of $10, but patrons will be able to enjoy bottomless pints of Summit beer, have a chance to win prizes from Sound Unseen, 89.3 the Current and you will receive a special Sound Unseen and Summit Brewing pint glass made exclusively for this event.
There is close to 25 films, 15 bands, six films in competition, five festival jurors (including award-winning broadcaster Robyne Robinson, arts & culture director Joe Spencer, and local DJ Danny Sigelman) in a span of five days. Creative and event producer Vilay Dethluxay and I have spent close to ten months on Sound Unseen. We know it will all go in a blink in an eye once things get moving on Wednesday. It will be thrilling to finally say that there is a film festival in St. Paul and Minneapolis; we have the Twin Cities covered