2021 DECIBELS MUSIC FILM FESTIVAL
First show: October 28
Presented by SF IndieFest
October 27-November 27
dB Fest screens live at The Roxie Theater Oct 28-31.
Decibels Film Festival works to bring the mosh pit, dance party, rap battle and sing-along to your local indie theater and living room by showcasing the diversity of music subcultures found on-screen.
Inspired by San Francisco’s musical heritage the dB Film Fest presents unforgettable documentaries, short films and music videos that celebrate the musicians, fans and happenings.
Full festival information, film descriptions and trailers can be found at 2021 Decibels Music Film Festival
LISTENING TO KENNY G (Plus short MY LITTLE HILTON)
Co-Opening Night Film
Award-winning filmmaker Penny Lane takes a witty and provocative look at the easy-listening saxophonist’s story while asking: what makes music good or bad?
Is there any musician more polarizing than Kenny G? The curly-haired saxophone player spawned the category of smooth jazz with international hits such as “Songbird” and “Silhouette.” But he also came to symbolize the easy-listening music played in malls and elevators that detractors love to hate.
LISTENING TO KENNY G reconciles the man with the meme, charting the rise of Kenny G to explore his boom and backlash. Lane interviews jazz critics, academics, and DJs for their takes on Kenny G. It’s “wallpaper music,” says one commentator. “I just want to believe that I’m better than that.” For some critics, Kenny G represents a means to discuss how Black musicians had their work appropriated by white performers. Lane contrasts the haters with Kenny G admirers who cherish his music as the soundtrack to their lives.
Directed by Penny Lane. United States. 97 minutes.
MY LITTLE HILTON (Short)
After 25 years as a caregiver, Gayle came to San Francisco to reignite her dream of making it as a Jazz singer. Now in her 60’s, she lives in an SRO hotel at the edge of Nob Hill and the Tenderloin and is finally, maybe, starting to realize the dream she’s had since she was a little girl.
Directed by Kevin Duncan Wong, Todd Sills. United States. 12 minutes.
DINNER IN AMERICA
Co-Opening Night Film
In a dreary Midwestern suburb, aggro punk rocker Simon (Kyle Gallner) finds himself on the run again after a bout of arson and a close call with the police. A chance encounter with the eccentric Patty (Emily Skeggs) provides him a place to hide, though she fails to realize that her new friend is the anonymous lead singer of her favorite band. As the two embark on a series of misadventures, they realize they have a lot more in common than they first expected.
Directed by Adam Rehmeier. United States. 106 minutes.
VINYL NATION (Plus short FUGAZI’S BARBER)
The vinyl record renaissance over the past decade has brought new fans to a classic format and transformed our idea of a record collector: younger, both male and female, multicultural. This same revival has made buying music more expensive, benefited established bands over independent artists and muddled the question of whether vinyl actually sounds better than other formats. VINYL NATION digs into the crates of the record resurgence in search of truths set in deep wax: Has the return of vinyl made music fandom more inclusive or divided? What does vinyl say about our past here in the present? How has the second life of vinyl changed how we hear music and how we listen to each other?
Directed by Kevin Smokler, Christopher Boone. United States. 92 minutes.
FUGAZI’S BARBER (Short)
When 1980s hardcore kids frequent an old-school Italian barber shop in their Washington D.C. neighborhood, legends and bonds that will last a lifetime are formed. FUGAZI’S BARBER is an energetic rollercoaster mixed media film capturing a piece of punk history and the confluences of music, culture and family.
Directed by Joe Tropea, Robert A. Emmons Jr. United States. 16 minutes.
A new scene of troubled, lo-fi young rappers have emerged from Trump’s America, utilizing the SoundCloud streaming platform to quickly become the most culturally disruptive force in hip hop, shocking the world with their rambunctious antics, prescription drug use, facial tattoos, and rebellious punk energy. What do these newly minted millionaire artists say about the state of youth culture today and the future of the music streaming economy?
Directed by Justin Staple. United States. 79 minutes.
FOREVERMOORE: THE ANGELO PROJECT (Plus short MUSIC FOR PEOPLE IN JAPAN)
Ska, punk, funk, metal, reggae, and soul fusion master, Angelo Moore of Fishbone devotes his life to weaving a legacy; crafting art through spoken word, music, and fashion. As a Black American forerunner in the early 80’s LA punk rock scene, he inspired others to embrace nonconformity. Living the life “of the famous but not rich,” Angelo pours ideas into everything he touches and makes beauty out of darkness. A smiling, expressive, and deeply introspective soul, Angelo contemplates how his efforts have materialized in this society and comes to terms with certain truths.
Directed by Tisa Zito. United States. 71 minutes.
MUSIC FOR PEOPLE IN JAPAN (Short)
In 1989, four suburban kids formed a rock group to compete in their high school Battle of the Bands. Thirty years later, a classmate they barely remember makes them an offer they can’t refuse; to reunite for one final show… in Japan!
Directed by Kevin Belli. United States/Japan. 23 minutes.
THE STORY WON’T DIE (Plus Short JUNIOR)
Revolution in exile is an everyday practice for four artists after fleeing their homeland due to the Syrian uprising. Surviving the largest displacement of refugees in modern history creates a difficult path for those rebuilding their lives, but a rapper, dancer, visual artist and post-rock musician choose to express their experiences through their art. Residing in different parts of Europe, these four artists reflect on life before and after the war. Rather than staying quiet or trying to forget, they remain uncensored as they use their creativity to resist the Syrian government from abroad. These are their lives and their story will never die.
Directed by David Henry Gerson. United States/Germany. 83 minutes.
An acclaimed Haitian musician struggles to keep the beat of his passion alive. Gifted as a teenager, Jérôme “Junior” Simeon was recruited by top Haitian roots music group “Racine Mapou de Azor” and spent 20 years touring the world. When the lead singer of his band dies unexpectedly Junior’s high-profile career comes to a shocking halt and he suddenly faces an uncertain future for himself and his legacy.
Directed by AJ Wilhelm. Haiti. 12 minutes.
OH, IT HERTZ! (Plus short NIGHT MUSIC)
A musicologist investigates the link between Nazi manipulation and all the music we listen to today. Does the obscure theory hold true?
Laurie Amat has heard a conspiracy theory involving Joseph Goebbels and the Nazis. Supposedly, at an international conference in 1939, the Nazis managed to change the music tuning globally. They changed the standard frequency of the tone A from 432 to 440 Hertz. They did it because they thought it would make the masses aggressive and easier to manipulate. This is the music pitch we listen to today.
Driven by her worry Laurie is thrown on a larger adventure into the unknown universe of sound. During the journey we meet passionate and charismatic sound enthusiasts. They reveal what sound really means to them personally and what it can do to you. Laurie experiences how sound can heal, how sound can manipulate your feelings and push you to do something, and how sound can be used as a weapon. Is it possible that second world war Nazis knew about this? During the exploration into sound Laurie brings in her own thoughts and personal memories around sound, – anecdotes and humor where you never know which sound is waiting around the next corner.
Directed by Gunnar Hall Jensen. United States/Norway. 87 minutes.
NIGHT MUSIC (Short)
In 1933, John and Alan Lomax, a legendary father and son musicologist team, travel through the American South recording unheard folk songs. They bribe their way into the country’s most oppressive penitentiary. In order to record a chain gang singing, the father must confront his own personal traumas.
Directed by Lukas Huffman. United States. 14 minutes.
I’M AN ELECTRIC LAMPSHADE (Plus short NENAD, WHO PLAYS PING PONG)
I’M AN ELECTRIC LAMPSHADE is an offbeat, heart-warming portrait of the world’s least likely rock star. This documentary-narrative hybrid feature tells the story of Doug McCorkle, a buttoned-up, mild-mannered corporate accountant. After retiring at age 60, Doug puts his marriage and life savings on the line to chase his wildest dream.
Directed by John Clayton Doyle. United States/Mexico/Philippines. 96 minutes.
NENAD, WHO PLAYS PING PONG (Short)
Nenad Bach is world-class musician who was compelled to stop playing publicly after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2010. Now, after a chance discovery, Nenad plays ping pong to help alleviate his symptoms and bring awareness to the disease – and he’s hoping to help millions of others do the same.
Directed by Brandon Lavoie. United States. 6 minutes.
NOTE FILMS START RIGHT AT THE LISTED SHOWTIME.
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2021 DECIBELS MUSIC FILM FESTIVAL: Upcoming Showtimes