Tonight: Sufjan Stevens and Ray Raposa score an indie film live
Film scores, some may argue, should give viewers a clearer idea about what's on the screen and how an audience is supposed to feel about it. If that's the case, the soundtrack to indie director Kaleo La Belle's documentary "Beyond This Place" (originally released in 2010) does what it's supposed to do -- and then some, at least for those who see it live tonight at the Vista in Los Feliz.
Accompanied by the fragile guitar work of renowned folk artists Sufjan Stevens and Ray Raposa, the film follows the story of La Belle, 34, reconnecting with his estranged, bike-ridding, LSD-addled hippie father. It encapsulates a balance of hope and heartbreak, which also happens to describe the style and sound for which the film's composers are best known.
Stevens and Raposa will perform the live original score during two screenings tonight at the Vista. The ghostly, meandering vocals on original songs, such as the film's title track, work in harmony with the tale forged in the pot-hazed hippie communes and winding mountain roads of Washington state, where La Belle's father, Cloud Rock (a.k.a. Gordon La Belle), 70, is an avid cyclist.
Throughout the film, La Belle and his father try to revive their relationship in the wake of a 30-year separation by embarking on a grueling 500-mile bike tour together.The music of Stevens and Raposa (brainchild of San Diego freak folk band Castanets) matches the emotional peaks and valleys that the two men endure while tackling the subject of old wounds, forgiveness and moving forward with life.
For Stevens, who grew up with La Belle as a childhood friend, breathing extra life into the film with live instrumentation seems rather poetic. It wasn't long ago that La Belle used his directing chops to help him embark on a similar journey. In 2006, Stevens and his brother, professional marathon runner Marzuki Stevens, were the subjects of La Belle's documentary "Crooked River," in which the two brothers journeyed to their native Michigan to revisit blighted landscapes, distant family members and old wounds that never really heal. Sound familiar?
There will be two screenings of "Beyond This Place" at the Vista -- at 7:30 and again at 9:45 p.m. Both will be followed by a Q&A with La Belle. To give you a taste of the show, YouTube uploaders have captured a short segment of Stevens and Raposa performing at various points throughout the film, which we've pasted below.
-- Nate Jackson
Photo: Sufjan Stevens brings his music to the Vista Theater. Credit: Denny Renshaw