FOR THE 28TH INSTALLMENT of its annual Reel Music Festival, the Northwest Film Center once again assembles a gaggle of music documentaries and music-related films to run over the course of the festival's 12 days, covering an impressive array of topics and musical styles. While many of the films come from afar (with several playing in Portland for the first time), there are a handful of local connections: Sunday, January 16, sees a two-hour program of music videos from local bands including Red Fang, the Thermals, and more, taking place at Mississippi Studios. Additionally, Portland filmmaker Lance Bangs hosts a series of his videos and other short music-related films shot over the course of 20 years on Friday, January 14.
Reel Music also draws non-local filmmakers to show their work, including Lev Anderson, the co-director of Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone, an outstanding study of the seminal funk-punk pioneers, which screens on Friday, January 14. Meanwhile, Mario Anaya presents Good Times: El Salvador's New Wave on Saturday, January 15; Anaya's film documents the El Salvadorian cover bands that reworked radio-banned songs by the Beatles and Stones, chronicling a little-known but fecund music scene. Other directors will also be in attendance for their films, including Andrew Thomas for his The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi (followed by a live performance by the Vince Guaraldi Tribute Band at the Mission Theater) on Tuesday, January 11; Stan Warnow for Deconstructing Dad, a portrait of Warnow's father, composer and inventor Raymond Scott, on Sunday, January 16; and Tex Clark for Radical Act, her 1995 film of the burgeoning riot grrrl movement.
The program kicks off with Look at What the Light Did Now, a documentary about Feist and the making of her 2007 album The Reminder and its subsequent tour. But for my money, the can't-miss ticket of the festival's opening weekend is Saturday, January 8's screening of The Secret to a Happy Ending: a Documentary about the Drive-By Truckers, Barr Weissman's honest, intimate, balls-out-rocking documentary about the Athens-by-way-of-Alabama group. It makes a worthy case that they might just be the best American band of the past decade.