SOS 2007

18-21 April 2007
Southbank Centre, London



DOES SOUND MATTER? Radio producer Piers Plowright wonders aloud about what it is that makes us listen.


Michel Chion is a French filmmaker, composer, theorist and author of many books on sound and cinema, including several of the most significant works on film sound. His writings include Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen, The Voice in Cinema, Kubrick’s Cinema Odyssey, Eyes Wide Shut and The Thin Red Line.
Chion addresses the question of overlapping dialogue in the history of the talkies, when the viewer hears several voices speaking simultaneously. He follows this question from the start of sound cinema to the films of Hitchcock, Duvivier, Lelouch, Welles, Sautet and, of course, Robert Altman, among others. He makes the comparison with the use of that practice in the theatre and in opera (vocal trios, quartets, etc.). (Simultaneous interpretation from French)


SOUND SENSE: PHEW! WHAM! AAARGH! BOO! OOOH! Is there a natural value to certain sounds? Marina Warner will explore meanings beyond words, in nonsense languages, in comic strips and cartoons, with reference to Samuel Beckett, Walt Disney, and Tacita Dean.


In SOUNDS OF A DIFFERENT REALM, sound designer/recordist Ann Kroeber presents the work and methods devised with her husband, partner and collaborator, the late Alan Splet. Splet was one of cinema’s original sound designers best known for his early association with David Lynch. Working together in recording, editing and design, Splet and Kroeber had a profound effect on the films of Lynch, Philip Kaufman and Carroll Ballard. Introduced by sound designer and ex-apprentice to Splet, FRANK BEHNKE.


Larry Sider introduces a short film about art forger, Tom Keating, showing his painting techniques and their metaphorical relation to sound.

Encina explains how sound offers added value for a film’s audience. “That is what happened to me when I saw Ozu’s movies because I do not speak other languages. Through the soundtrack, I had to add mood and create meaning to interpret my own story from the his movie.” Resuming a tradition of asynchronous sound (in her film Hamaca Paraguaya), and influenced by Ozu, Kiarostami, Robert Cahen and Lucrecia Martel, she defines her radical approach to the perception of time and distance and how she uses the restrictions she places on her soundtrack as an aesthetic resource. (Simultaneous interpretation from Spanish)

In this era of globalisation, the eye seems to be colonised and domesticated more than any other sense. Instead of finding identity and difference from a visual point of view, Martel proposes to pay attention through the ear, by looking for those oral practises (local voices, accents, intonations) which are less open to outside influences. She discusses her strategies for using recorded voices and conversations as a point of departure for a new approach to screenwriting and projecting this aural perspective as a way of conceiving personal and original films. (Simultaneous interpretation from Spanish)

Costantini chairs a discussion establishing the strategies that are common to these two directors – key contributors to new Latin American cinema – in their films La Cienaga and La Nina santa (Martel) and Hamaca Paraguaya (Encina). Most significant is their privileging of sound over music, emphasising the material quality of sound and a less picturesque version of reality. (Simultaneous interpretation from Spanish)

Hartstone, former Head of Post-Production at Pinewood Studios and mixer of Blade Runner, Aliens, Eyes Wide Shut and eight James Bond films; features sound recordist Ray Beckett, best known for his work with Ken Loach, and winner of the Oscar for The Hurt Locker; with director Ken Loach, discuss the intricacies of sound production from recording to mixing with a close look at Loach’s particular sound style in Ae Fond Kiss.


As a composer Michèle Bokanowski has trained and worked with Michel Puig, Pierre Schaeffer and Eliane Radigue. In parallel with her career as a composer she creates the scores for animated films, documentaries, dance, and sound installations. Here she will discuss her work on the films of her husband, animator Patrick Bokanowski, screening excerpts from Déjeuner du matin, l’Ange and la Plage.

London-based independent radio producer, Alan Hall, creates programming for BBC networks and the international market. He considers how sound encourages musical rather than everyday listening in NO SOUND IS INNOCENT.

As an artist making screen-works and installations, Stidworthy concentrates on questions of communication. Speech is approached as a sculptural material in works which question who is speaking, and how and where they are located. Showing her film and audio works (To, Dummy, Audio Cab) that suggest complex relationships between space, voice and subject, Stidworthy will be joined by Steven Connor in a discussion around these ideas. Connor is Academic Director of the London Consortium and Professor of Modern Literature and Theory at Birkbeck College, Steven Connor’s interests include magic, medicine, the cultural life of objects, the material imagination and the history of the senses. He has written books on Dickens, Beckett, Joyce and post-war British fiction and is the author of Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism.

At the start of a career that spanned 32 years, 60 feature films and 65,000 hours of recording, American sound recordist Jim Webb devised the multi-track location recording system on Nashville that helped define Robert Altman’s directorial style. Webb looks at the creative – rather than remedial – potential of multi-track recording through his work with some of the most innovative directors of the last thirty years including Altman, Coppola, Pakula and Wenders.


An opportunity to ask further questions in an informal gathering in the Purcell Room Foyer.

Deutsch introduces a new journal, The Soundtrack, describing its philosophy and attitude.

Pangborn breaks down Atom Egoyan’s film Exotica in terms of the relationship between sound, image and the score composed by Mychael Danna.

Larson discusses the function of music and film, and the role the film-scorer tends to play in the production chain. He will focus on communication with directors and producers – always a big issue, trying to find a common vocabulary between musician and filmmaker. Using examples from his work on Boys Don’t Cry, The Woodsman, Palindromes, Dirty Pretty Things and Tigerland, etc., he explores the differences between music created for a film context as opposed to “art” music, rock and pop. He rounds off his session with describing some personal techniques and practical advice for aspiring composers.

As a composer and director, Goebbels’ work is distinctive for its striking synthesis of music and sound with forms that shift between theatre, opera and radio. His presentation reflects on Gertrude Stein’s quote, “…nothing is more interesting to know about the theatre than the relation of sight and sound.”