On every Wednesday this month, the Northwest Film Forum presents the Offbeat Music Films Series: five cinematic captures of the bands themselves, labels, fans, and more. All these unique films are premiering for the first time ever in Seattle, and most are one-night-only engagements, so you won’t want to miss out! Check out a trailer below:
The series kicks off on Wednesday, February 10th, with screenings of Live from UB and I Am A Knife With Legs. For Live from UB, filmmaker Lauren Knapp spent ten months in Ulaanbaatar (UB), Mongolia, exploring its burgeoning rock scene and discovering the important role musicians play in giving voice to the newly independent nation’s cultural identity. The second film screening this night, I Am A Knife With Legs, is a goofy farce from writer/director/actor/producer/editor Bennett Jones aka Euro pop-star Bené (described by the NW Film Forum as, “think Flight of the Conchords with a smidge of Borat”), who is hiding out in Los Angeles after a fatwa is declared against him because of his song “All Religion is Stupid, Especially Yours.”
The series continues on Wednesday, February 17th with Never Get Tired: The Bomb the Music Industry! Story, a documentary about the fiercely-DIY artist Jeff Rosenstock. For nearly a decade, he’s led the punk rock music collective Bomb The Music Industry, building a worldwide following without the help of labels, album sales, or distribution. Rosenstock was the first to introduce the pay-what-you-can model for album downloads, and adhered to the principles of only playing all ages shows, with a $10 maximum ticket price, and if you learned a song and brought an instrument to the show, you could jump up on stage and play with them. (The band have been called “the Fugazi for the internet age.”) This feature-length film, directed by Sara Crow, spans five years of their truly independent music career, showing Rosenstock’s struggle to sustain himself.
Later that night, you can catch a screening of Ruined Heart (subtitled: Another Love Story Between a Criminal and a Whore), from Filipino director Khavn De La Cruz. What sets this film apart from those other stories is a soundtrack from European electronic lo-fi duo Stereo Total, whose eclectic score lends the film a punk noir opera quality.
On Friday, February 24th, the series concludes with the premiere of Morphine: Journey of Dreams. The Cambridge-based trio formed in 1989, combining saxophone, two-string bass, and the distinctive baritone of frontman Mark Sandman. Sadly, in 1999, Sandman suffered a massive heart attack during a show in Italy. He collapsed on stage and died instantly. Journey of Dreams relives that all-too-short ten year career through the stories of the surviving members, and the fellow musicians who shared their stage, like Henry Rollins and the late Joe Strummer. Rare live footage punctuates the film, so for those of us who never got to see the band in concert, director Mark Shuman provides a loving alternative. Later this night, you can also catch an encore screening of Ruined Heart.