These sounds look good

by Keri Carlson

Sound Unseen isn’t going to show “Tommy.” Sorry.

The festival that features films about music, now on its sixth year, focuses on rare films and rare subjects.

“Unlike a lot of other (music) film festivals that pick out crowd favorites, we’re more interested in the people who don’t get attention,” festival director Gretchen Williams said. “We look for the artists who influence.”

Sound Unseen does more than simply celebrate music on film. Many of the films showcase a scene, artist or movement that is unknown and mysterious.

They give even the most encyclopedic music lovers an education while maintaining interesting enough storylines for those not as hard-core.

This year, Sound Unseen will introduce many to contemporary composer Arvo Part, outsider Larry “Wild Man” Fischer and Cuban hip-hoppers La Fabrik-K.

As always, one of the festival’s strengths is its variety of subjects.

“We were careful to include all genres,” Williams said.

From the Memphis blues scene to Charles Mingus to electronic dance to Philip Glass to Nick Cave to swamp rock, Sound Unseen offers a niche for everyone.

But the film programmers are also aware of the latest trends. “Drive Well, Sleep Carefully” documents Death Cab for Cutie’s 2004 tour. “Punk Rock Holocaust” turns the Warped Tour into a horror flick (including the murder of Slug from Atmosphere). And “As Smart As They Are” shows the hipster publishing company McSweeney’s and its “house band” with lyrics written by Rick Moody (“The Ice Storm”), Jonathan Lethem (“The Fortress of Solitude”) and of course, Dave Eggers (“A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”).

While these films capitalize on current popularity, they nonetheless portray stories that have not yet been told.

Below – five not-to-miss films at sound unseen.