Park City 98: Music Strikes a Chord at Slamdance
by Amanda N. Nanawa
“Pariah,” written and directed by Randolph Kret, presents the stark images of
hatred begetting hatred where violence becomes the rule of social acceptance.
“I did this film in honor of my brother and anyone else who was the victim of
a hate crime,” says Kret. The subject matter of the film piqued interest from
the Martin Luther King Foundation. Because of the film’s ideology, Coretta Scott
King, wife of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., donated one of her late
husband’s speeches to the film. “Pariah” is one of only a few films in history to
which the Foundation has donated a speech.
Another donation to the film came in the form of music where various punk bands
such as Minor Threat and Social Unrest both agreed to help. “We have never
released our music to any commercial films,” says Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat,
“but I donated our music to “Pariah” because the film is very realistic. It is a
hard-edged film that is sure to scare people, which is good. The subject matter
Social Unrest’s Nikki Garrett rarely releases their music to filmmakers but,
“…made an exception for “Pariah” because of the subject. When we used to play
in concert, we noticed skinheads beating up some of our audience members. I was
glad to see a film that showed them in a realistic light.” Music was composed by
co-producer Scott Grusin who did 14 original songs. “The music makes fun of the
music of skinheads,” says Kret. “Since most of America is ignorant to this
sickness that threatens to destroy all of our freedom, I wanted to give them
a wake up call.”
Drugs, love and a pig create the central point for the film “Scrapple” by
Christopher Hanson. Scrapple is the pig that happens to find itself in the
middle of people’s lives in the ski town of Ajax, Colorado. The score was
performed by blues artist Taj Mahal along with his Phantom Blues Band.
Director Lance Mungia describes “Six String Samurai” as “A ‘Mad Max‘ meets the
‘Wizard of Oz‘ meets ‘Happy Days‘.” It started as a short film and eventually
branched out into a feature with the working title “The Blade.” According to
Mungia, it’s rock ‘n roll with a fairy tale setting where Death is a heavy
metal guitarist and martial arts actor Jeffrey Falcon is a post-apocalyptic
rocker trying to become the new King of Vegas. Score for the film was composed
by Brian Tyler and music by Siberian rock ‘n rollers the Red Elvises is featured.
“Burn,” directed by Scott Storm, is a psychological exploration between two old
friends Ben Sharpe (Randall Slavin) and Tom Rice (David Hayter). The script
was written by Dylan Kussman, who played the role of Cameron in “Dead Poet’s
Society” and played opposite Gabrielle Anwar in “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken“.
In 1993, he mailed a copy of the script to Randall Slavin and roommate
Christopher McQuarrie, who then passed it along to longtime friend Bryan Singer.
The script was placed on the shelf. In 1996, McQuarrie won an Academy Award for
best original screenplay for “The Usual Suspects” and Singer, having directed
the successful crime caper, was shooting his follow-up, “Apt Pupil”. Around this
time, Slavin thought about the Kussman script and decided to do it.
Slavin’s friend David Hayter acted and produce the film. “As I was asking
everyone I knew how to go about this process, Adam Duritz — lead singer of the
Counting Crows — became interested and offered his services, first in the form
of giving us music for the film, and later as an executive producer,” says
Hayter. For Duritz, this will be his second feature he has co-executive
produced; the first being “The Locusts“. Rounding out the co-executive producers
duties are Bryan Singer and Counting Crows manager Steve Jensen. Besides an
unreleased track by the Counting Crows, “Good Luck”, there’s music by Patti
Griffith of Deftones, and Dog’s Eye View. To date, Hayter and Jensen stated
that the soundtrack with Geffen Records is “not a confirmed deal”.
Another feature that focuses on music is “Goreville, USA,” a feature documentary
about a small town in Illinois where owning a gun is mandatory. Score for the
film was performed by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. David Sarno and Seth Henrikson share
the directing credit. In a phone interview, Henrikson told indieWIRE how Jeff
Tweedy became involved with the project, “The film was made about an hour from
where Jeff grew up.” After seeing the trailer, Tweedy wanted to do the whole
soundtrack. “I don’t think it was so much the story,” continues Henrikson, “but
the people.” He admits that the film touches on the country’s historical and
constitutional heritage on the right to bear arms. There was no historian in the
town nor was there one used for the film.
To reinforce the theme of music at the festival, there is the “Slamdance
Soundtrack Sessions” and “Music in Film” event where Trey Parker and company
present “Cannibal! The Musical“.