Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 13 / 29 March 2018

The music & the musicmakers


Musician Christopher Willits in directors Michael Coleman and Emmanuel Moran's The Art of Listening. Photo: Courtesy Noise Pop
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The 25th version of San Francisco's Noise Pop festival, Feb. 16-27 at the Roxie Theater, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Artists Television Access and Swedish American Hall, will unspool a number of musicmaker docs. Here's a sample of program highlights.

The Art of Listening Co-directors Michael Coleman and Emmanuel Moran's conversations with instrument-makers and music producers unlock the secrets in the wood and the studio soundboard. This Bay Area premiere includes a discussion of the musical magic behind such film classics as Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain. (Roxie, 2/17; post-film Q&A with the filmmakers.)

Stronger than Bullets Director Matthew Millan documents the heartbreaking mood swings in the history of Libya, whose young music rebels tried to break free from the 42-year dictatorship of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi. Millan's thesis is that the 2011 popular revolution that overthrew Qaddafi was brought about as much by guitar strings as by bullets. The good news is that the musician rebels were successful; the bad news is that militias inspired by the dead dictator would rise up and at least temporarily crush the music folks. The revolution unfolded far beyond Benghazi – there are poignant moments captured in LA and by far-flung reporters from ABC, NBC, CBS and The Irish Times. West Coast premiere. (ATA, 2/19; Millan will appear for a post-film Q&A.)

Gary Numan: Android in La La Land The story of how this one-time electronic-music boy genius survived Asperger's syndrome by marrying his biggest fan and moving from the English countryside to Southern California is creatively told in this Bay Area premiere. In the 80s Numan was at the top of the music charts with hits like "Cars." A backlash against him from the music press plunged him into depression. His career was revived by a move to LA, where he summoned his gifts to produce the comeback album Splinter. (ATA, 2/19)

Hired Gun Director Fran Strine documents the work of backup musicians. (Alamo Drafthouse, 2/16; post-film Q&A with filmmaker and special guests.)

Festival Michael Raspatello examines the experiences of music fans who attend huge 100,000-audience music events, inspired in some ways by the original 1969 Woodstock. (Swedish American Hall, 2/17; post-film Q&A.)

L7: Pretend We're Dead The story of a seminal all-woman punk grunge band. Director Sarah Price sorts out L7's rise and fall. (Roxie, 2/17; post-film Q&A with filmmaker and band members.)

My Buddha is Punk Director Kyaw Kyaw employs a punk rock approach for a survey of his country, Myanmar (Burma). The filmmaker feels that democratic reforms by the former military junta have not gone far enough. (ATA, 2/19, plays with The Boombox Collection.)

The Resurrection of Victor Jara Doc recalls the 1973 execution of Chilean poet Victor Jara by the forces of Augusto Pinochet. Interview segments with musicians Bono, Jackson Browne and Pete Seeger. (ATA, 2/18)

The Colossus of Destiny: A Melvins Tale A doc about the famous Washington State grunge band. Includes interviews with Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, Gene Simmons of Kiss, Kris Nonoselic of Nirvana, and punk rocker Mark Arm. (Swedish American Hall, 2/18)


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