DeWalt performs new score for ‘Sidewalk Stories’ at Epsilon Spires

BRATTLEBORO — When you think “silent film,” you may imagine the classic black-and-white capers of Chaplin or Keaton, hijinks, pratfalls, and century-old sensibilities.

But Charles Lane's Sidewalk Stories, which will be shown at Epsilon Spires, is an “entirely different experience,” according to organizers of the event in a news release.

As they describe it, “Shot in Manhattan in 1989, this silent film considers similar themes to some of Chaplin's more thoughtful films (notably, The Kid), but brings it into a contemporary lens as it sheds light on the plight of an unhoused man in New York and the abandoned toddler he finds himself taking care of on the unforgiving streets or urban America.”

“The film explores not only the bleak and difficult circumstances that the unhoused face but also captures the humanity, intelligence, and inventiveness of those same people.”

Dan DeWalt, who has written and performed several scores for other silent movies, said he was immediately drawn to this film because of its unflinching look at what so many of us choose to not see.

Working in partnership with Epsilon Spires, he will be presenting and performing a brand new score to this film on Saturday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m.

DeWalt composed the music to try to capture those multifaceted aspects of a homeless existence, using rhythms and harmonies to create tension or to express joy or sorrow.

The fact that the film was filmed in 1989 allows for some musical references to the era as well as some humor embedded in those references.

Using both a piano and the Epsilon Spires pipe organ, DeWalt's music will “utilize a wide and varied palette of sound to capture the gamut of expression and pathos in the film.”

Reflecting on the composing experience, DeWalt says “it is an awesome privilege to be able to create the music that will support this film. Music is loaded with emotion and power. The sounds that accompany a scene can greatly affect the overall impression that the scene delivers.

“In this work, I am trying to create an emotional response that fits both the time and setting of the film, as well as the underlying realities that shape and determine so much about how people are able to get by when they have not been graced with good fortune and economic success,” he adds.

The doors will open at 7 p.m. The film starts at 7:30 p.m., and runs for 100 minutes. Admission is $15. If the fee is an obstacle, contact DeWalt at [email protected] to see about discounted entry.

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