Since its inception, Sound Unseen has expanded from a niche film festival to a year-round cavalcade of screenings, music, social events and “cinefeasts.”
What separates Sound Unseen from its film-fest peers is not just its immersion in the Twin Cities/regional scene, but its dedication to living in the spirit of independent film. This is a showcase not only of cinematic darlings but also outliers and unknowns, home-brewed ventures and goofy long shots.
The centerpiece is “Flood Tide,” a documentary about a floating art project on the Hudson River that included local band Dark Dark Dark. The band scored the movie, and two of its members will provide live accompaniment to a preceding program of shorts (9:30 p.m. Sat., $10-$12, Amsterdam Bar & Hall). And the fest culminates with a power-ballad singalong and live-band karaoke (7 p.m. Sun., $5, Bedlam Lowertown). This is what all film festivals should aspire to be: less pomp and circumstance and more chances for the community to party.
“Salad Days” (9 p.m. Fri., McNally Smith) chronicles Washington, D.C.’s influential hard-core punk scene, told largely by its central figure, Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi). The music and archival footage teem with life. The sheer improbability of the scene’s history — of teenage Henry Rollins rising from Häagen-Dazs employee to punk-rock hero — does enough to whet our appetite for more.
The Grateful Dead has been documented so thoroughly it’s hard to believe any stone is left unturned. Enter “The Other One: The Long, Strange Trip of Bob Weir” (7 p.m. Sat., McNally Smith), whose focus on founding member Weir unearths some novelty for Deadheads and for those who haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid. While many hoist up Jerry Garcia as the star, “The Other One” positions Weir as the band’s most innovative member, and one of music’s great rhythm guitarists.
Bennett Jones’ absurdist DIY narrative project “I Am a Knife With Legs” (9 p.m. Sat., McNally Smith) wanders through the mind and madness of Bené (played by Jones), a pop superstar in hiding after a fatwa is issued against him. Jones employs all manner of seizure-inducing typography, jump cuts, manic illustration, postmodern song breaks and plain ol’ stupidity to leave us wondering how much of this is camp and how much is shoestring budget constraints.
“Legends of Ska” (3 p.m. Sun., McNally Smith) makes the not-so-bold statement: Without ska, there is no reggae. It’s an undeniable thesis, so while first-time Twin Cities director Brad Klein offers sincere insights into the history of the genre, it’s a shame the doc doesn’t stand on its own, instead nudging audiences on the premise of, “Hey, without these guys, there’d be no Bob Marley.”