“Music and film go together like chocolate and peanut butter,” says Corey Taylor, the frontman of rock bands Slipknot and Stone Sour, who will appear in Dave Grohl’s new documentary “Sound City.”
That simple expression is just one example of how this year’s Sundance Film Festival will see a dramatic upsurge in music as a thematic element and as a featured performer. It’s a sign that the venerable indie film festival is also becoming more and more of a film and music festival.
There’s evidence in the variety of films that take music themes as their subject, ranging from Grohl’s “Sound City” to “Narco Cultura,” “Muscle Shoals,” “Pussy Riot — A Punk Prayer,” “History of the Eagles Part 1” and opening-night film “Twenty Feet From Stardom.” At the 2013 festival, music geeks will have as much to savor as film geeks, with scheduled events and concerts, including one being billed as the biggest musical event in Sundance history.
There has been a “recent surge in people making films about music, and we’ve been drawn to the films that examine the spirit of creativity in music,” said Trevor Groth, the Utah native who is the festival’s director of programming. “It ties very naturally to independent film, which has a lot of the same impulses.”
Which is why it seems there are more and more music-related films every year at Sundance. “Robert Redford has always loved exploring the intersection of different art forms,” Groth said.
At the intersection of music and film » While Sundance films about music are nothing new, audiences’ appetite for them seems to be increasing.
Exhibit one is last year’s “Searching for Sugar Man,” which chronicled the efforts of two Cape Town fans, Stephen “Sugar” Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom, to find out if the rumored death of American musician Rodriguez was true. It screened to rapturous applause on the opening night of the festival and ended up winning the Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award for best international documentary.
Sundance programmers noticed. “Music creates an atmosphere in which a film can be experienced and helps allow the audience get lost in the film,” said Peter Golub, director of the Sundance Institute Film Music program. “Any music that is wed to a film alters the way that film is perceived.”
Golub reels off a long list of films with soundtracks and songs that have forever seared themselves into filmmakers’ heads: “Patton,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Doctor Zhivago,” “Cinema Paradiso,” “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” “E.T.,” “Schindler’s List.”
Then there are classical Golden Age musicals, such as “Singin’ in the Rain,” “West Side Story” and “An American in Paris,” or more recent musicals such as “Chicago,” “Dreamgirls” and “Les Misérables.”
For bringing attention to indie music, special attention should be paid to former Rolling Stone writer and director Cameron Crowe, who introduced grunge to mainstream America though 1992’s “Singles.”Next Page »