New Helen Keller documentary, ‘Her Socialist Smile,’ comes to Epsilon Spires
Helen Keller

New Helen Keller documentary, ‘Her Socialist Smile,’ comes to Epsilon Spires

BRATTLEBORO — At 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 12, the multimedia arts venue Epsilon Spires will host an immersive sound bath followed by a screening of Her Socialist Smile, a new documentary chronicling Helen Keller's political activism.

The term “sound bath” describes an experience where listeners are enveloped in sound waves, creating a meditative environment that can foster shifts in perception.

“A primary intention behind the pairing of this sound bath offering with the screening of Her Socialist Smile is to draw the audience into a parallel, more intuitive mental space” says Matt Samolis, the musician who is orchestrating the sonic portion of the evening.

He adds that sound baths nurture “a primordial mindset that is much more oriented toward the inclinations of the spirit and the order of the natural world.”

Samolis, a composer and multi-instrumentalist who has worked with ensembles at the New England Conservatory and Berklee College of Music, uses bowed cymbals and tuned steel rods to create otherworldly sounds that blend drone and harmonic traditions.

He explains that the sound bath at Epsilon Spires will use “the suspension of rhythms, meter, and other markings of the passage of time, [which] opens the senses and relaxes the mind into a state that is more receptive to its natural state, and the conditions of its environment.”

Her Socialist Smile, directed by Emerson College Professor John Gianvito, explores the radical leftist politics of Helen Keller - an important aspect of her work as an advocate for those who are deaf and blind which has been largely left out of her legacy.

In the film, Keller rails against the idea of “charity” even as she had to work within that system, advocating through her writing and lectures for a society of social and economic equality where charity wouldn't be necessary.

Due to the destruction of Keller's archives in the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York City, very little audio and visual footage of her work exists. Gianvito instead selectively employs blocks of text on a black screen and long, quiet shots of nature to subtly invoke Keller's sensory experience of the world.

“The languages of both the film and the sound work illuminate a distinct departure from conventional forms of communication, and offer a glimpse into an inner world that operates independently of culturally scripted notions of process and time,” says Samolis.

Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at

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