This April, join us for a special lineup of films with live musical accompaniments in the Sound + Vision Festival, a three-day showcase celebrating the enduring and mutually enriching relationship between cinema and music. The festival runs April 7-9 and will feature live performances of original scores by the Alloy Orchestra and acclaimed musicians Matthew Nolan, Rachel Grimes, and Erik Friedlander.
A feast for the eye and the ear, Sound + Vision Festival brings live musical accompaniments to a pair of silent German classics. The prestigious Alloy Orchestra kicks off the festival on Friday, April 7, performing an original score for E. A. Dupont’s newly restored seedy circus picture Varieté (1926). The ensemble most recently performed at the Film Society for last summer’s Sound + Vision presentation of Marcel L’Herbier’s L’Inhumaine. On Saturday, acclaimed musicians Matthew Nolan, Rachel Grimes, and Erik Friedlander debut a new soundtrack to Robert Siodmak and Edgar G. Ulmer’s People on Sunday (1930), which features a screenplay by a young Billy Wilder and camerawork by Fred Zinnemann.
Capping off the festival is a psychedelic double bill of the Barbet Schroeder and Pink Floyd collaborations More and The Valley (Obscured by Clouds), both lensed by master cinematographer Néstor Almendros.
Tickets go on sale March 23.
Sound + Vision Festival is organized by Florence Almozini, Rufus de Rham, and Matthew Nolan. Special thanks to Culture Ireland.
Films & Descriptions
All films screen digitally at the Walter Reade Theater unless otherwise noted.
Ewald André Dupont, Germany, 1926, 95m
German intertitles with English subtitles
The Alloy Orchestra returns to the Film Society with another live, one-of-a-kind musical accompaniment—this time to E. A. Dupont’s dark tale of infidelity, murder, and acrobatics. Famed trapeze artist Boss Huller (Emil Jannings, Oscar’s first Best Actor) meets young, seductive dancer Berta-Marie (Lya De Putti) and abandons his wife and child for her at Berlin’s famed Wintergarten. There, they team up with the aerialist Artinelli (Warwick Ward), who seduces Berta-Marie and sends Huller into a vengeful frenzy. Impressionistically shot by Karl Freund (Metropolis, Dracula), Varieté endures for its energetic direction and camerawork, capturing circus acts with enthralling, dizzying movement. This new digital restoration was undertaken by the foundation Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Stiftung, working with the Filmarchiv Austria, using nitrate prints from both the U.S. Library of Congress and the Filmarchiv Austria. A Kino Lorber release.
Alloy Orchestra is a three-man musical ensemble—Terry Donahue, Ken Winokur, and Roger C. Miller—who write and perform live accompaniments to classic silent films. Working with an outrageous assemblage of peculiar objects, they thrash and grind soulful music from unlikely sources and have performed at prestigious film festivals and cultural centers around the world (including the Telluride Film Festival, the Louvre, and the National Gallery of Art). Utilizing their famous “rack of junk” and electronic synthesizers, an unusual combination of found percussion and state-of-the-art electronics, they have the ability to create any sound imaginable.
Friday, April 7, 7:00pm
People on Sunday / Menschen am Sonntag
Robert Siodmak & Edgar G. Ulmer, Germany, 1930, 35mm, 73m
German intertitles with English subtitles
Acclaimed musicians Matthew Nolan (guitar), Rachel Grimes (piano), and Erik Friedlander (cello) bring a new, original live score to this cinematic paean to the last days of Weimar Germany. Filmed on location in Berlin, using a cast of amateurs in roles based on their actual day jobs, the film sustains a lyrical tranquility as people swim, listen to music, flirt, and generally enjoy their time away from the daily grind. People on Sunday was an unassuming but groundbreaking response to the big-budget films being produced by UFA at the time, and boasted a crew of young German cineastes who would later become major filmmakers in Hollywood: Robert Siodmak, Edgar G. Ulmer, Fred Zinnemann, and Billy Wilder.
Artistic statement about the score: “The new musical score to People on Sunday is based on a creative response to that which we don’t see. This compositional strategy allows us to echo those internal psychological and narrative meanings behind and beyond the images. For us there is a haunting duality to Siodmak and Ulmer’s vision of 1930s Berlin, and the new score reflects this sense of social or even political turbulence. Ultimately, our aim is to offer the viewer another way of seeing the movie apart from the surface view.”
Matthew Nolan (guitar)
Matthew Nolan is a Dublin-based musician, composer, and academic. He was the founder and artistic director of 3epkano (2004-2015), an instrumental music ensemble specializing in the production of original music for movies from the silent era. Matthew has worked on commissions from a range of performing arts institutions and arts organizations, including the Dublin International Film Festival, Kilkenny Arts Festival, Dublin Fringe Festival, National Gallery of Art, Cork and Dublin French Film Festivals, Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, Cork Midsummer Festival, Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. He has also produced new music for several award-winning Irish films over the last ten years. He teaches Film Studies at Dublin Business School and Trinity College Dublin.
Most recently Nolan collaborated with Ernst Reijseger to produce new music for a 1971 experimental documentary about George Best. The year 2016 saw further presentations of this project in Belfast, Manchester, and Dublin. In October, in collaboration with Seán Mac Erlaine, he premiered a new score for Tod Browning’s Dracula at the Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin.
Rachel Grimes (piano)
Named “one of American independent music’s few truly inspired technicians” by WIRE magazine, Rachel Grimes is a pianist, composer, and arranger based in Kentucky. Widely known for her role in the groundbreaking chamber ensemble Rachel’s (six albums on Quarterstick/Touch and Go), she has since toured the U.S., Europe, and Asia as a solo pianist, and as a collaborator with various artists and chamber ensembles. Her work has been performed by Longleash, Portland Cello Project, Amsterdam Sinfonietta Trio, Cicada, Dublin Guitar Quartet, Borusan Quartet and Önder sisters, Orchestra Kandinskij, and the Louisville Orchestra. She has performed at many diverse festivals including Ecstatic Music Festival, Substrata, All Tomorrow’s Parties, P Festival (Taiwan), CrossLinx (Netherlands), Approximation Festival (Germany), and Big Ears in Knoxville, Tennessee. Releases include The Clearing (Temporary Residence), Book of Leaves, Marion County 1938, Compound Leaves and contributions to the albums of Watter, Christopher Tignor, Seluah, Nathan Salsburg, Joan Shelley, R. M. Hubbert, and the Frames. Collaborators include Loscil, SITI Company, Chris Wells, and Julia Kent with the artist Peter Liversidge. She is also a member of Louisville band King’s Daughters & Sons (Chemikal Underground). She scores for film and multimedia installations and has licensed music to numerous film and TV works internationally.
Erik Friedlander (cello)
Cellist Erik Friedlander started studying music at an early age, beginning at five with guitar and cello lessons at eight. He grew up in a house filled with music, as his father, an avid music lover, made countless mixtapes that played daily in their home. Erik spent his twenties honing his skills as a player and an improviser and quickly became a sought-after studio musician, performing on the Downtown music scene and with artists as diverse as The Mountain Goats, John Zorn, Dave Douglas, and Courtney Love. Erik’s desire to actively participate in the swirl of music styles he was surrounded by led him to find new ways to play the cello and drives his solo work, which is varied and unusual.
Friedlander recently completed the score for Thoroughbred, a feature film directed by Cory Finley that appeared at the 2017 Sundance Festival. Erik has composed music for ads, dance works, documentaries including the score for Nothing on Earth, a documentary about the work of landscape photographer Murray Fredericks’s dangerous visits to the Greenland icecap. Erik scored the 2013 feature film Future Weather.
Saturday, April 8, 6:00pm
Barbet Schroeder, West Germany/France/Luxembourg, 1969, 112m
English, German, Spanish, and French with English subtitles
Barbet Schroeder’s debut feature transposes the myth of Icarus to Europe’s drug-fueled, free-spirited ’60s—set to the music of Pink Floyd. Lensed by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Néstor Almendros (Days of Heaven), More dreamily observes the cataclysmic yet romantic allure of heroin addiction between a German mathematics student, Stefan (Klaus Grünberg), and the American girl, Estelle (Mimsy Farmer), he follows to Ibiza. Schroeder neither romanticizes nor wholly condemns their doomed romance, but depicts their story with a sense of fatalism. Even the soundtrack gratifies the whims of the characters, who tune Pink Floyd’s songs in and out through radios and cassette players, transforming the music into spellbinding ambience.
Sunday, April 9, 2:00pm & 6:45pm
The Valley (Obscured by Clouds) / La vallée
Barbet Schroeder, France, 1972, 106m
English and French with English subtitles
Schroeder and Pink Floyd’s second collaboration continues the filmmaker’s exploration of sexual freedom and mind alteration, this time in upland Papua New Guinea. After a restless diplomat’s wife (Bulle Ogier) goes looking for a rare bird’s priceless feathers with a group of hippies (including Michael Gothard and Jean-Pierre Kalfon), they encounter the indigenous Mapuga tribe, who inspire them to find a paradise located within a valley “obscured by clouds.” Schroeder observes his characters and locales with a vivid, anthropological eye—by turns curious and cynical—as Pink Floyd inhabits the aural spaces with hazy compositions, recorded during the band’s Dark Side of the Moon studio sessions and released in the album Obscured by Clouds.
Sunday, April 9, 4:30 & 9:00pm