(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – A screening of the hit independent film Beasts of the Southern Wild at MASS MoCA’s Cinema Courtyard – the largest movie screen in New England – will be accompanied by a live score performed by composer Dan Romer and director and co-composer Ben Zeitlin on Saturday, August 10, at 8:30pm.
Romer and Zeitlin will bring New York City’s Wordless Music Orchestra to MASS MoCA to perform the score live as the film plays on the museum’s two-story, outdoor movie screen. The Wordless Music Orchestra, which was founded by a non-musician in 2006, presents concerts in museums, churches, and nightclubs, pairing artists from the sound worlds of classical, electronic, and rock music.
Some of New York’s most omnivorous and gifted young musicians comprise the Wordless Music Orchestra. Its debut performance included a composition by Radiohead guitarist Johnny Greenwood, as well as scores by Gavin Bryars and John Adams. The Wordless Music Orchestra has performed at Lincoln Center, the Library of Congress and the Walker Art Center. Live scoring of Beasts of the Southern Wild marks the ensemble’s MASS MoCA debut, where a music-less print of the film, with voices and other sound effects still intact, will be projected on the museum’s massive outdoor movie screen behind the live orchestra.
A mythic tale of devotion and loss, Beasts of the Southern Wild was the runaway success in the world of independent film last year. The film centers around Hushpuppy, the scrappy and determined, yet pint-sized heroine at the center of Zeitlin’s mythical tale, whose all-but-forgotten bayou community is cut off from the mainland after a storm. The girl survives on courage and imagination to save her ramshackle home, her ailing father, and ultimately herself in this epic, magical adventure.
Called “a small miracle of deliberate outsider art that entranced and exhilarated audiences” by Smithsonian magazine, the film is as much artisanal as auteur – so richly layered, imaginative, and textural, it feels handmade.
As well it should. Zeitlin’s fingerprints are on every inch of the body of this work. He co-scripted the screenplay, based on a work by a childhood friend. He also co-wrote the score with accomplished composer Dan Romer. Of his multi-hyphenate experience, Zeitlin explains, “Music is in mind from the very earliest stage of writing the film. If you only write and direct, you’re writing complete scenes and going back afterwards and trying to fill that in with music. But when you write from a musical place, that information is integrated from the very beginning.” Zeitlin describes Romer as having created the “rickety, swinging feel” of the Beasts score by “combining symphonic strings with a banjo or a fiddle, and using tables and chairs to create percussion.”
Beasts of the Southern Wild with live music will screen in MASS MoCA’s Courtyard C on Saturday, August 10, at 8:30pm. In case of rain, the event will move inside to the Hunter Center. Tickets are $15 advance / $19 day of show and can be purchased by calling 413.662.2111 x1 or by visiting MASS MoCA online. Members receive a 10% discount.