Between “Twenty Feet from Stardom,” “Searching for Sugar Man” and “Anvil! The Story of Anvil,” many of the most popular rock documentaries of the past decade have been about performers who were far from popular themselves. So it should be a major selling point that a lot of the movies featured in this week’s 19th annual Sound Unseen film festival are based around acts that even the nerdiest record store clerks might have to look up.
Scheduled Wednesday through Sunday primarily at the Trylon Cinema and Bryant-Lake Bowl in Minneapolis, Sound Unseen 19 features new documentaries on Australian punk band Radio Birdman, Seattle garage-rockers the Sonics, New York hardcore pioneers Agnostic Front (“The Godfathers of Hardcore”), Memphis-based Big Star cohort Van Duren, Swedish rapper Silvana, Norwegian black-metal band Mayhem (“Lords of Chaos”) and New York jazz drummer Milford Graves. Those are in addition to a 10th anniversary screening of “The Story of Anvil” on opening night Wednesday to seemingly help set the mood/mold.
Even the biggest name among the Sound Unseen documentary subjects, the late, great Teddy Pendergrass, is something of an unsung hero. The other best-known names on the schedule are probably record labels and not record makers: New movies on Blue Note and Wax Trax! are also part of the mix.
Other documentaries on the schedule include profiles of early African American TV show host (“Mr. Soul!”), Patti Smith-affiliated artist and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (“Mapplethorpe”), Broadway record collector and Letterman TV staffer Steve Young (“Bathubs Over Broadway”), recently shuttered Chicago nightclub Neo (“2350 Last Call: The Neo Story”) and modern women blues artists (“Shake Sister Shake”). That’s in addition to the festival’s usual mix of music-centric original feature films and shorts.
Billed as “one of the 25 coolest film festivals in the world” by Moviemaker Magazine in 2016, Sound Unseen has continued strong even after its director, Jim Brunzell, moved to Texas to helm aGLIFF (All Genders, Lifestyles & Idenitites Film Festival). He runs the local fest and the monthly Sound Unseen screenings from Austin with help from local Uptown Theatre staffer and musician Rich Gill.
You can see full synopses of all the movies and buy advance tickets to the screenings at SoundUnseen.com. Here’s the full schedule for the week. The asterisk indicates the director or someone involved in the film’s making will be at the screening.
Wednesday, Nov. 14
- Shake Sister Shake - 6:30PM / Bryant Lake Bowl
- Bathtubs Over Broadway - 7PM / Trylon Cinema*
- 2350 Last Call: The Neo Story - 8PM* / VFW Uptown*
- Anvil! The Story of Anvil! - 9PM / Trylon Cinema
- What It Takes: film en douze tableaux - 9:15PM / Bryant Lake Bowl
Thursday, Nov. 15
- Up to Snuff - 6:30PM / Bryant Lake Bowl*
- Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records - 7PM / Trylon Cinema (SOLD-OUT)
- Silvana - 9PM / Trylon Cinema
Friday, Nov. 16
- Boom! A Film About the Sonics - 6:30PM / Bryant Lake Bowl*
- Mr. Soul! - 7PM / Trylon Cinema*
- Mapplethorpe - 9:30PM / Trylon Cinema
Saturday, Nov. 17
- Tomorrow Never Knows - 12:30PM/ Trylon Cinema*
- Waiting: The Van Duren Story - 2:45PM/ Trylon Cinema*
- Descent Into the Maelstrom: The Radio Birdman Story - 5PM / Trylon Cinema*
- Teddy Pendergrass: If You Don’t Know Me - 6:00PM / Bryant Lake Bowl*
- The Godfathers of Hardcore - 7:30PM / Trylon Cinema*
- Lords of Chaos - 9:45PM / Trylon Cinema
Sunday, Nov. 18
- Saints Rest (w/ The Wedding Song) - 11AM / Trylon Cinema*
- Milfrod Graves Full Mantis - 1PM / Trylon Cinema
- Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes - 3PM / Trylon Cinema
- Taking Off - 5PM / Trylon Cinema
- Sound Unseen Shorts Program - 5:15PM / Bryant Lake Bowl*
- Icepick to the Moon - 8PM / Bryant Lake Bowl*
- Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records - 9PM / Trylon Cinema