When I tell folks I’m the programmer for Varsity Cinema, they sometimes conclude that means I get to choose all the movies I want to play here. In actuality, we pride ourselves on being a community cinema, and our programming comes about through a collaborative process, often as the result of direct partnerships with partner organizations, etc. And our mission dictates that we focus on highlighting diverse voices, elevating films of artistic quality, etc. I’m often just the guy that contacts the distributor and pays the bills.
But every now and then I get the chance to book a film I am passionate about, and such is the case with 32 Sounds. I was lucky enough to experience this film as part of last year’s Sundance Film Festival (virtually), and it remained one of my top films of the year. Sam Green is a longtime favorite of mine. I’ve been a fan since way back to The Rainbow Man / John 3:16, and I’ve been lucky enough to experience a live performance of his documentary The Measure of All Things.
For 32 Sounds, Sam Green has again stretched the limits of the form by making a film that is quite literally about sound. It has been presented in a variety of formats, from a live performance version at certain festivals, to a version with audience members wearing headphones (how I first experienced it virtually) and now in theatrical distribution via an amazing 7.1 surround sound mix.
It’s hard to put the film into words because each of the snippets – the 32 sounds – do something a little different. Sometimes they do tackle the physical properties and mechanics of sound. But underneath and then sometimes right there on the surface, Green looks at how sound is connected to meaning and memory, perhaps in a more primal way than any of the other senses.
It’s a moving film. It’s unlike any film I’ve ever seen. It’s only at The Varsity for one week and I hope you’ll make it a point to stop in and see it.