For the second straight year, the city of Duluth has welcomed Sound Unseen International Duluth (SUID) to present a film/music/art festival in the heart of downtown from June 8-12. While last year, we didn’t know what to expect attempting to pull off this event, we did feel right at home, screening films at the ultra-cool two-screen movie theater Zinema on Superior Street, dancing late into the night at Pizza Lucé, and taking in the beautiful sights of Lake Superior from Spirit of the North, which is a “diamond in the rough” space located in Fitger’s on the third level, not in the hotel but right above the Fitger’s Brewhouse restaurant. This year, we’ll be screening our opening night film, Sing Your Song, a documentary on the life, history, and music of Harry Belafonte, at the exceptional Clyde Iron Park, with the film’s producer—and daughter of Harry—Gina Belafonte in attendance for opening night.
While the opening night film is on Thursday, SUID really kicks off on Wednesday, June 8 at Sacred Heart Church with an unique program entitled, “Light Factory: An art, music + cinema installation” with different musicians, artists, and filmmakers collaborating together to create a magical dream world of light, sound, and film. Some of the notable artists include Kathy McTavish, Coleman Miller, Tim Kaiser, and Angela Brannon.
This is the second year in a row also, that I’ve handled the director-of-programming duties in an attempt to get some of the best and hottest music films to screen in Duluth. Of the 25 films screening in Duluth, 18 of them are Minnesota premieres, with one receiving its U.S. premiere: the DIY music documentary Werewolves Across America, featuring musician Viking Moses, who takes you on a tour of the underground U.S. DIY music scene and features performances by Deer Tick, the Shivers, and Phosphorescent. Some of the other films that I’ve excited to show are:
• Abraxas, which I saw at Sundance and completely surprised me, stars Japanese musician Suneohair, who plays a Zen monk looking to rock out one last time so he can move on to becoming a full-time monk.
• Littlerock, a moving film about two Japanese siblings traveling to San Francisco when their car breaks down in a sleepy small town and their lives are changed forever: the sister wants to stay and meet new people, and the boy wants to get to San Fran. (With every paid admission to Abraxas and Littlerock, SUID will donate a percentage of the ticket price to the American Red Cross in support of the Japan Earthquake & Pacific Tsunami Fund.)
• The Greek film Attenberg, which I also saw at Sundance and loved every bit. I was thrilled when American distributor Strand Releasing picked up the film, so now audiences in American can see this goofy, erotic, complicated, and daring film of a young woman experiencing her sexual awakening while preparing for father’s impending death.
• And lastly, Road to Nowhere, the first film directed by Monte Hellman (Two-Lane Blacktop) in over 20 years, is one of my early favorite films of the year, is a true crime mystery that plays with time, space, characters and slowly draws the viewer into its web of lies.
There will also be some great music and bands, both from the Twin Cities and from Duluth, playing at Clyde Iron and Pizza Lucé; all the shows at Pizza Lucé this year are free. The Minneapolis all-female rock group Sick of Sarah are playing Friday night at Clyde Iron, while at Pizza Lucé, Hastings 3000—named by City Pages the year’s best rock band—will play with Duluth rockers Cars & Trucks. Also performing during the five-day festival will be The Tribe & Big Cats!, MaLLy—hot off his Soundset performance at Canterbury Park last week—Minneapolis bands BNLX and Pink Mink, and the bossa nova group Buffalo Moon, who will be playing at the opening night party. Below, check out our trailer by Jon Thompson.
Photo: The Ballad of Genesis & Lady Jaye, courtesy Sound Unseen International Duluth