Life is but a screen

Sound Unseen scene revolves around Bryant-Lake Bowl

There are fewer artistic mergers more natural and powerful than the blending together of music and film - and bowling. Sound Unseen, running Wednesday, Aug. 16-Thursday, Aug. 24 at various locations, has made a name for itself as a forum for the fusion of music and movies, but this year it's adding the wholly Midwestern balls-and-pins touch.

Sound Unseen Festival Director Gretchen Williams said the fest focuses on movies about music unlikely to get mainstream audiences or big P.R. pushes by major studios.

&#8220None of [the films] are mainstream,” she said. &#8220The mainstream movies usually get an audience pretty easily and they don't need the support of a festival. The films we include oftentimes, a good 50-75 percent of them, are really great films about really great people and contributors to the music and art scenes, and [they] don't really get any attention for it.”

Though music fans, and music-movie fans, can be very serious about the arts, the festival, now in its seventh year, is all about enjoying the two artistic endeavors.

&#8220The festival is supposed to be fun,” said Williams. &#8220It should be a lot of fun with teams of music lovers bowling against musicians.”

The bowling battle takes place at Bryant-Lake Bowl (where else?), 810 W. Lake St., on Sunday, Aug. 20 from noon-4 p.m., after the midnight showing of &#8220The Big Lebowski” the night before at Uptown Theatre, 2906 Hennepin Ave. S.

There will be eight bowling teams filled by members of bands, including National Bird, The Haves Have It, Friends Like These, STNNNG, and Mel Gibson and the Pants (note: none of the members of the Pants has ever driven drunk in Malibu).

Sound Unseen is a mid-sized festival, cutting back from last year's fall screening of about 70 films to this year's late-summer showing of 14 movies.

&#8220It allows us to be more focused,” Williams said.

The main theater used by this year's festival is Bryant-Lake, though the stylish Riverview, 3800 42nd Ave. S., will also host a number of screenings (see sidebar for all movies, locations and show times).

Besides the bowling, another innovation for this year's Sound Unseen is the handing out of Friends of Distinction awards to folks in the local music world. The first of two recipients is drummer and DJ Lori Barbero of Babes in Toyland fame.

Her work with that band broke all sorts of idiotic, sexist stereotypes about women in rock music.

But she's far from some historic relic to be admired on a dusty shelf. She continues to be a presence around town as a DJ and party promoter.

The other Friend this year is longtime Uptown resident Randy Hawkins. He's made his mark on the scene by keeping this, the typically raucous behind-the-scenes world, sane as a tour manager, soundman and First Avenue legend.

If things are going smoothly at a Minneapolis concert, it's often because Hawkins is on the job keeping egos in check, band members on stage and sound flowing from microphones to speakers to ears.

He's currently working with Atmosphere, but he has managed, gently bullied and quietly coaxed lots of other artists into behavior approximating socially acceptable standards (a level many musicians aren't eager to embrace). The long list includes Run Westy Run, the Cows, the Melvins, Hank Williams III, Mr. Bungie, Bob Mould, Anthrax, American Head Charge and others.

&#8220I'm the only guy in Minneapolis who hasn't worked with Prince at any point in time,” Hawkins said with his trademark big, warm laugh. &#8220I've never even been to Paisley Park.”

Hawkins has a bizarre trove of First Avenue stories about the famous who are not Prince, including a gem about hip hop star LL Cool J, who appeared at First Avenue years ago.

&#8220He went on about three hours late,” Hawkins remembered. &#8220For some reason, he had to wear new pants every day; he had a person who went out and bought him new pants every day. And for some reason, this day, the person buying the pants bought the wrong size of pants. So they went on literally two and a half hours late because they had to wash the pants [worn in a previous show] and wait for them in the dryer.”

Think about that next time you hear &#8220Doin' It.”

You can get more information about Sound Unseen at All-access festival passes are $75 ($65 for students). Single-film tickets are $7 ($5 students). You can buy them at the Unseen website or at the venues.

(In the interest of full disclosure, it must be noted that Randy Hawkins, he of the warm laugh and LL Cool J story, is a friend of Michael Metzger.)

Sound Unseen

Times, dates and locations of the movies screened in Sound Unseen

All Kindsa Girls (2005)

Director: Cheryl Eagan Donovan

65 minutes

Documentary tracing the evolution of garage/punk rock.

Tuesday, Aug. 22, 9:45 p.m.

Bryant-Lake Bowl

Beyond Beats and Rhymes (2006)

Director: Byron Hurt

60 minutes

Thought-provoking interviews with famous rappers including Mos Def, Fat Joe, Chuck D, Jadakiss and Busta Rhymes, among others.

Tuesday, Aug. 22, 7:30 p.m.

Bryant-Lake Bowl

Cold Hearts: Icelandic shorts + music videos (2006)

Directors: various

93 minutes  

An exploration of Icelandic music and art not focused on Bjork or Sigur Ros.

Monday, Aug. 21, 7:30pm

Bryant-Lake Bowl

Danielson: a Family Movie (or, Make a Joyful Noise Here) (2006)

Director: JL Aronson

103 minutes

Unraveling the knot of Christian faith, creativity, vision and attention to detail known as Daniel Smith.

Thursday, Aug. 17, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 20, 9:30 p.m.

Bryant-Lake Bowl

Downtown Locals (2006)

Director: Robin Muir and Rory Muir

85 minutes

The Muir sisters' document six New York City subway performers.

Friday, Aug. 18, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 20, 5p.m.

Bryant-Lake Bowl

First Avenue HayDay (2006)

Producer: Rick Fuller

Perhaps the star film of the festival, it's the world premiere of nearly lost concert footage and interviews features rare and unseen First Avenue concert performances from The Replacements, Husker Du, Tetes Noires, The Jayhawks, The Wallets, Peter Himmelman, Babes In Toyland, Soul Asylum, Boiled In Lead, The Clams, Urban Guerrillas, The Hoopsnakes, The Mighty Mofos, Run Westy Run, Blue Hippos, The Cows, Arcwelder, Trip Shakespeare, Gear Daddies, Powermad, and more.

Wednesday, Aug. 16, 7 p.m.

Riverview Theater

High Tech Soul (2005)

Director: Gary Bredow, with Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, Eddie Fowlkes, and Richie Hawtin

64 minutes

A documentary tracing the origins of techno music.

Saturday, Aug. 19, 10 p.m. and Wednesday, Aug. 23, 9:30 p.m.

Bryant-Lake Bowl

Let's Be Active: Keep the Fuzz Off My Buzz (2006)

Director: Dallas Hallam

90 minutes

Filmmaker/musician Hallam captures the peculiar ins and outs of eight days on the road.

Sunday, Aug. 20, 7:30 p.m.

Bryant-Lake Bowl

loudQUIETloud: a film about the Pixies (2006)

Directors: Steven Cantor and Matthew Galkin

85 minutes

A look at the Pixies.

Wednesday, Aug. 16, 10 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 19, 7:45 p.m. and Friday, Aug. 18, 11:30 p.m.

Wednesday and Friday: Riverview Theater

Saturday: Bryant-Lake Bowl

Monks-The Transatlantic Feedback (2006)

Directors: Dietmar Post and Lucia Palacios.

100 minutes

Peering into the fusion of art and pop known as the Monks.

Wednesday, Aug. 23, 7:15 p.m. and Thursday, Aug. 24, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Riverview Theater

Thursday: Bryant Lake Bowl

My Name is Albert Ayler (2006)

Director: Kasper Collin

79 minutes

Saxophonist Albert Ayler often said of jazz,&#8220If they don't get it now, they will.”

Saturday, Aug. 19, 1 p.m.

Riverview Theater

Off and On Broadway: Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players (2006)

43 minutes

Indie rock oddity the Trachtenburg Family reveals itself onscreen.

Thursday, Aug. 17, 9:30pm

Bryant-Lake Bowl

Old Joy (2006)

Director: Kelly Reichardt

76 minutes

A feature film about two old friends who reunite for a weekend camping trip outside of Portland.

Wednesday, Aug. 23, 9:40 p.m.

Riverview Theater

The Treasures of Long Gone John (2006)

Director: Gregg Gibbs

95 minutes

A look at visionary Long Gone John, founder of the indie label Sympathy for the Record Industry.

Wednesday, Aug. 23, 7:20 p.m. and Thursday, Aug. 24, 9:45 p.m.

Bryant-Lake Bowl

Wasted Orient (2006)

Director: Kevin Fritz

91 minutes

Members of the popular Chinese punk band Joyside are featured in this


Friday, Aug. 18, 10:10 p.m.

Bryant-Lake Bowl

For more information, go to