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ANNEA LOCKWOOD / A FILM ABOUT LISTENING a film by SAM GREEN. 2021, USA, 33 min. A guided meditation through the pioneering composer’s boundless soundscapes.

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To wrap up our second annual Summer Music Festival, we’re pleased to present Annea Lockwood / A Film About Listening, a quietly radical reflection on our relationship to sound.

 

A documentarian working at the intersection of film, music and performance, Sam Green opens his short with the instruction to wear headphones for a stronger experience, and introduces the ring of a bell, signaling when to open and close our eyes. For Green, these prompts serve as a kind of “intervention,” that can “scramble the way we normally listen to films,” challenging the idea of cinema as a predominantly visual medium.

 

This exercise is inspired by Annea Lockwood, the New Zealand-born American composer who started creating innovative and playful work in the 1960s, incited by her curiosity toward everyday phenomena. From the reverberation of different types and shapes of glass to the crackling of a piano as it burns to the ground, Lockwood treats every sound as “a piece of music in itself.” She is still working today, and is one of Green’s main subjects in his most recent feature-length “live film” 32 Sounds (2022), which isolates specific aural sensations one might hear in their lifetime. Here, he focuses solely on Lockwood, fascinated by her revelatory way of relating to the world through the simple act of listening.

 

 

 

“The thing I like most about blurring the lines between mediums is that you can create surprise and that feeling of not knowing what is going to happen next—not knowing exactly what kind of film you are watching.” SAM GREEN

 

Still bursting with life in her early 80s, Lockwood speaks through a smile, relishing in the “lovely phrasing” of a river’s underwater currents, and joyously collaborating with a group of young, experimental musicians in Queens, NYC. Sitting in her yard in upstate New York, she closes her eyes and listens to the symphony of cicadas, crickets, and countless other species as they make their mellifluous mating calls. The subtle act of watching someone listen suddenly becomes a transformative experience, encouraging us to tune out any overpowering visual signals, and tap into the nuances and intonations of the rich soundscapes that exist all around us. 

 

Sam Green is a documentary filmmaker whose immersive work pushes the boundaries of the medium. He has created numerous “live documentaries,” which he narrates on-stage accompanied by live music, including The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller featuring the music of Yo La Tengo and A Thousand Thoughts with the Kronos Quartet. Most recently, he’s collaborating with electronic musician JD Samson on 32 Sounds, which is currently touring throughout the country and internationally.

 

Text written by Susannah Gruder.

Credits for
ANNEA LOCKWOOD / A FILM ABOUT LISTENING
produced by
EVAN NEFF, JOSH PENN & NORA WILKINSON
cinematography by
YONI BROOK & DEREK HOWARD
location sound by
SEAN O'NEIL
sound mix by
RICH BOLOGNA
colored by
AYUMI ASHLEY
animation and design by
WORK-ORDER
footage research by
LEWANNE JONES
production assistance by
TERESA BROCK MONEO