Music takes on different guises at Sundance Film Festival

Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:25pm EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Since the early days of film, music has gone hand in hand with movies, but a new crop of filmmakers is using music to explore existential themes of humanity that will be showcased at the annual Sundance Film Festival.

"Whiplash," a contender in the U.S. dramatic competition, will kick off Sundance on Thursday and is the first of numerous films that use music as a tool to explore human identity at the festival, held in the Utah ski resort of Park City.

The film, directed by Damien Chazelle, stars rising star Miles Teller as a drummer who enters music school and comes face to face with a teacher who challenges him to pursue perfection, pushing him to the limit.

"It is such a singular film," Trevor Groth, Sundance's director of programming, told Reuters. "It really is one of the potential breakouts of the festival because it's so unique."

"Whiplash" will compete against "Low Down," a coming-of-age tale following a young girl growing up with a troubled musician father, and "Song One," in which a young woman seeks out a musician to help her younger brother come out of a coma.

"I was really fascinated by the idea of music's connective power, and how it can connect people in unpredictable ways without them even knowing it," Kate Barker-Frayland, the director of "Song One," said.

The romantic drama, starring Oscar winner Anne Hathaway and Johnny Flynn, brings together two people both at low points in their lives. Barker-Frayland said she wanted to cast their story against the backdrop of Brooklyn's vibrant music scene.

"I wanted to shoot all of the performances live and record the music live to really capture what it's like to go watch a show at all these different places. Music is such an emotional thing and any song has some emotional content," she said.   Continued...

A general view shows Main Street bustling with activity before the opening day of the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, January 15, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart