By Simone Goldstone | NB Indy Soundcheck Columnist
“The Sound of Us” invokes a sight we’ve been desensitized to; motionless bodies in hospital beds, being kept alive by machine throughout the pandemic. Misplaced or atoning men and women in jail sit gathered on plastic chairs. Igniting these images and stories with hope and redemption is, of course, the power of music.
Music has long been a universal connector; a vibrational channel of emotions. Civilizations throughout time have used music to heal, celebrate, mourn, encourage, and remember. The documentary isn’t the first to tell us the strength music stirs and the impacts it makes on our lives, but the film puts music’s power into context throughout the last year.
The first story spotlighted by the film is the work of Project: Music Heals Us. Through the screens of tablets and iPads, violinists and guitarists create soothing sounds above the hissing of ventilators for hospitalized patients and victims of the Covid virus.
The project also uses music to heal those who are incarcerated and to rejuvenate them in their future outlooks for life after jail.
The film goes on to document the New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s goal to perpetuate the history of music belonging to African Americans.
Another story is Francesco Lotoro, an Italian pianist finding songs written in World War II concentration camps. This, to me, was the most poignant and touching part of the documentary and an often-unexplored subject.
Next in the lineup is the Second Time Arounders Marching Band, giving former high school and college marching band members a second chance at performing.
Finally, Joel Thompson, a composer of “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed,” is given prominence as a choral work inspired by the last words of seven unarmed black men before they were murdered by police officers.
Beautifully shot, the film gives commentary to a theory that isn’t new: music heals, unites, and prevails, though the documentary does introduce and give publicity to notable and noble projects and communities making a difference through the power of music.
“The Sound of Us” screens on Tuesday, Oct 26 at Starlight Triangle Cinemas. Visit www.NewportBeachFilmFest.com for tickets and more information.