You don’t need to be a record collector nerd to appreciate many of the entries in this year’s Sound Unseen Festival.
Granted, it might help to know the difference between David Bazan and David Grusin, or the D.C. and L.A. punk scenes, based on the slate of movies in the 20th annual installment of the Twin Cities’ cool little film fest for music lovers. But there are also movies on such mainstream subjects as MTV, INXS singer Michael Hutchence, Gordon “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” Lightfoot, Alice Cooper and Creem magazine.
Sound Unseen 2019 kicks off Tuesday with the PJ Harvey documentary “A Dog Called Money” at Walker Art Center. It continues through Sunday in venues that include the Parkway Theater, Trylon Cinema and Bryant-Lake Bowl.
Here are five recommended screenings. You can browse the full schedule at soundunseen.com.
‘I Want My MTV’
What: A rock-doc version of the deliciously dishy 2011 oral history book of the same name, the film tells the humble and rather bumbled beginnings of the cable network and how it made unlikely stars of everyone from Devo to A-ha. Sting, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Tegan and Sara, the great Tabitha Soren and others speak to its impact amid a barrage of old interviews and video clips that adds up to a nostalgic candy fix.
When: 7:30 p.m. Wed., Parkway Theater, 4814 Chicago Av. S., Mpls., $12-$14, with the Van Halen-related short film “Lost Weekend” and a performance by Maybe Nebraska.
‘Punk the Capital’
What: “If D.C. seems like a town that punk should happen in, then maybe that’s exactly where it should happen.” Using a lot of recently unearthed Super-8 performance footage, this film captures the dichotomy of one of the most thriving and anarchic punk scenes of the late 1970s and early ’80s emerging near the doorsteps of the White House and U.S. Capitol, with punk icons including Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Fugazi and Henry Rollins.
When: 9:30 p.m. Fri., Parkway, $12-$14, followed by a Q&A with co-director James June Schneider and Minor Threat’s Jeff Nelson.
‘X: The Unheard Music’
What: Originally released in 1986, this concert film captures the Los Angeles punk band X in its heyday — although Twin Cities fans who’ve caught recent shows might argue they sound better than ever. It also features colorful scenes of the band offstage and on the road.
When: 7 p.m. Sat., Parkway, $15-$20, with a post-screening Q&A featuring X co-leader John Doe, director W.T. Morgan and producer Alizabeth Foley, plus a performance by Amy Abts.
‘Digging for Weldon Irvine’
What: Some of the best rock docs have been about unsung heroes with complex personalities and troubled lives — a formula repeated in this chronicle of the jazz pianist and Nina Simone bandleader who wrote the civil rights anthem “To Be Young, Gifted & Black” and later mentored such hip-hop heavyweights as Mos Def and Q-Tip.
When: 3 p.m. Sun., Trylon Microcinema, 2820 E. 38th St., Mpls., $12-$14, including Q&A with director Victorious De Costa.
‘Mystify: Michael Hutchence’
What: You know his big hits (“Need You Tonight,” “Never Tear Us Apart”), and you probably know the sad conclusion (suicide from hanging in 1997), but do you know what the devilishly handsome INXS singer was really like offstage or the random violent incident that left him permanently damaged? This documentary by his friend Richard Lowenstein, with music from Nick Cave’s soundtrack partner Warren Ellis, sets out to answer all that, with help from Hutchence’s romantic partners Kylie Minogue and Helena Christensen.
When: 2:30 p.m. Sun., Parkway, $12-$14.
And 5 more of note:
“The Show’s the Thing: The Legendary Promoters of Rock”: A celebration of Frank Barsalona, Bill Graham and other pioneering concert hypemen, followed by a panel with local concert bookers. (6:30 p.m. Thu., Bryant-Lake Bowl, $12-$14.)
“Strange Negotiations”: Portrait of indie-rocker David Bazan, from his band Pedro the Lion to his Christian faith, with a director Q&A. (7 p.m. Fri., Parkway, $12-$15.)
“Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind”: An all-Canadian cast explores the legendary songwriter. (1 p.m. Sat., Trylon Cinema, $12-$14.)
“Live From the Astroturf, Alice Cooper”: Documents the 40th-anniversary reunion of the original Alice Cooper band at a Dallas record store. (8:15 p.m. Sat., Bryant-Lake Bowl, 810 W. Lake St., Mpls., $12-$14.)
“Dig!”: 20th-anniversary screening of the Sundance-decorated film about the feud between the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Dandy Warhols, followed by a Q&A with director Ondi Timoner, who’ll also show her Paul Westerberg short “Seeing Through Paul.” (9:30 p.m. Sat., Parkway, $15-$20.)
When: Nov. 12-17.
Where: Parkway Theater, Trylon Cinema, Bryant-Lake Bowl and Walker Art Center, Mpls.
Info: See full schedule and get tickets at soundunseen.com.