As they did in 2011, the Dreamland Film Center will introduce a set of theater upgrades with the presentation of Reel Soundz, a music-focused, documentary film series. The screenings kick off this week, running on Friday and Saturday nights through Dec.15. The Louisville Film Society says renovations to Dreamland are behind them for now, as they’ll unveil an improved, beer-friendly concession stand during their grand reopening.
Cinema needs music more than vice verse, so films and film festivals that pay tribute to the sonic arts are deserved payback. The marriage between the two forms harks back to before movie characters could speak to one another, and, decades after the advent of talkies, composers continue to hit emotional spots that dialogue can’t quite reach. Reel Soundz II will open with a project that reverses the usual protocol between film and soundtrack with “Valtari Mystery Film Experiment.” In it, 12 filmmakers interpret Valtari, the latest album from Reykjavík dream-pop sensations Sigur Ros.
Valtari is an intriguing concept because the typically moody, stringy, piano-driven soundscapes of Sigur Ros already sound as though they were made for film. The band’s spacious brand of rock can encourage eyelids to lower like movie screens, with tracks that have been used in dozens of film and television projects like “127 Hours,” “The Life Aquatic” and “Vanilla Sky.”
“Valtari” the film mixes fan entries with officially commissioned films from known directors like John Cameron Mitchell (“Short Bus,” “Hedwig”) and Ramin Bahrani (“Man Push Cart,” “Chop Shop”). These range from sparse, very Nordic-looking art films to richly decorated exercises in tone. “Film #12” from Anafelle Liu is one that captures the quality of a Sigur Ros-inspired reverie. Winner of the fan competition, this roughly choreographed, super slow-mo clip features an over-exposed silhouette as it wrestles the indecipherable blob that’s beset her head and shoulders.
“We don’t want to tell anyone how to feel and what to take from it. With the films, we have literally no idea what the directors are going to come back with. None of them know what the others are doing, so hopefully it could be interesting,” states Sigur Ros on its website.
A short doc on hometown hero Ben Sollee called “The Wooden Box” (a reference to the 26-year-old performer’s cello) will also screen on Friday night.
Another series highlight arrives on Dec. 15 when filmmaker Steve Gebhardt will be present for his films “Escalator over the Hill” (7 p.m.) and “Ladies & Gentlemen, the Rolling Stones” (9 p.m.). Gebhardt will likely have stories to tell, given his résumé that includes collaborations with some of the brightest artists of the late 20th century. In addition to the Stones, the filmmaker had a three-year working relationship with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, directing what would become Lennon’s last public performance: the “One to One” concert that aired on national TV in 1972.
“Escalator Over the Hill” chronicles the recording of Carla Bley’s sprawling, three-disc jazz opera of the same name. Recently named one of the “50 great moments in jazz” by The Guardian, the 1971 album works in rock, country and Indian influences, as well as appearances from notable musicians from all over the map.