Uyehara Hits High Notes on Music of SFIFF50

Sean Uyehara April 20, 2007

When thinking about the upcoming San Francisco International Film Festival, music may not be the very first thing that pops into your head. It may not be the second. But, says SFIFF programmer Sean Uyehara, "The festival provides one of the best ways to check out amazing performances, whether those performances are live or on film." requested a list from Uyehara on where to find it — "it" being original scores from the likes of John Lytle and Tommy Guerrero, Tropicalia from Tom Zé, repurposed video game sounds by Bob Ostertag, and an 11-piece orchestra accompanying Guy Maddin’s "Brand Upon the Brain!" for starters — during the 50th Festival, which opens Thursday, April 26th and runs for 14 more very musical days.

1. Elvis Costello sings Buell Kazee’s folk song "The Butcher Boy." The documentary "The Old Weird America: Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music" presents two threads. The first thread follows a bio of the enigmatic, mercurial and wonderful Harry Smith, who has been called a madman, crackpot and alchemist. He also organized one of the most influential music collections in American history, the above-named anthology published in 1952 from his own collection of records. The second thread features a series of performances where contemporary musicians — Beck, Sonic Youth, Lou Reed, David Johansen, Steve Earle, and many others — cover songs from the collection. If Costello’s rendition doesn’t move you, check your pulse, see your therapist, call your mother. There is something amiss.

2. Three short animated films by Kelly Sears. Sears has an astute eye for rendering the absurd. Musicians of a certain ilk love that stuff. Original musical scores to her shorts have been composed and will be premiered live at the Castro Theater in the Notes to a Toon Underground program. The first is "Crucial Crystal:" Sears’ opus on New Age-dom will be infused with the cleansing power of Jason Lytle’s new score. Lytle, formerly the singer/songwriter of the band Grandaddy will enlist Carla Fabrizio, Marc Capelle and William Winant to render the healing power of love