It's not every day that a well-known movie producer decides to hold a film screening at Bowdoin, but tonight Greg Johnson '77 will do just that. "The Music Never Stopped," a new film which he co-produced, is showing tonight at the College.
"The Music Never Stopped" opens nationwide on March 18. It has already shown at the Sundance Film Festival as the opening night selection.
"Sundance opens with what they believe will be a strong contender, so it's really a prime position," said Associate Professor of Film Studies Tricia Welsch, the co-host of the event.
"The Music Never Stopped" is a dramatic interpretation of an actual case study by Dr. Oliver Sacks, M.D. Another case study by Sacks was turned into the film "Awakenings," starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams, which was nominated for three Oscars.
"The Music Never Stopped" focuses on the relationship between a father and son who are brought closer together by the unlikely pairing of brain tumor and rock and roll. The son, Gabriel, runs away from home in 1967 and is reunited with his parents 20 years later.
The reunion is bittersweet because Gabriel has an extensive brain tumor that requires major surgery. The surgery is a success, but Gabriel loses the ability to create new memories and remains stuck in the 1960s. Through the help of a music therapist using songs by the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Gabriel and his father, Henry, are able to form an emotional bond once again.
The plot of the movie differs slightly from the events in Sacks' case study, so Welsch is looking forward to being surprised.
"It's an interesting story and I'm curious to see how they're going to do it," said Welsch.
The role of Gabriel is played by Lou Taylor Pucci, an actor known for roles in indie films like "Thumbsucker" and "The Go-Getter." Henry is played by J.K. Simmons, one of the most familiar faces in show business. Simmons has starred in the television series "The Closer" and "Law & Order" and is known for roles like Juno's father in "Juno" and the editor of the Daily Bugle in all three Spider-Man films.
"The actors I know in the film are really worth seeing," said Welsch. "I think it's going to be entertaining and very off-beat."
Johnson presented Bowdoin with the opportunity to screen the film before its national opening.
"I got a call from Greg, and he offered to bring the film," said Welsch. "He said he was coming back to Bowdoin on some business and asked if we would like to have a sneak preview."
Johnson has previously visited Welsch's film studies classes to show his work.
"I am enthusiastic about welcoming Greg back to campus and happy that he wants to be involved," said Welsch.
Since graduating from Bowdoin, Johnson has worked in fields ranging from investment banking to international film distribution to public service. He has been working in the film industry for the past 15 years and has produced a variety of films, most notably 2005's "The Squid and the Whale."
Johnson has served as a Commissioner to the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism. He currently teaches a course at Yale called "Media and Money" about the business of film.
"A lot of people in film come from a business background—it's called show business, not show art," said Welsch. "You do have to understand how to run a business if you're going to make a movie."
Johnson will share his knowledge of the film industry by introducing his film and holding a question and answer session at the end.
"He's very interested in making the kind of work he does intelligible for the public," said Welsch.
The screening is sponsored by the Department of Film Studies and the Bowdoin Film Society (BFS). BFS president Sarah Siwak '13 is excited about the opportunity to see a much-anticipated film for free and talk with one of the producers.
"I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to ask the producer about how he ended up producing for a prestigious Sundance selection," said Siwak.
"I think it's going to be a really fun screening and a wonderful opportunity to hear about film production and the world of film festivals from someone we know to be a great guest," said Welsch.
"The Music Never Stopped" will screen tonight at 7 p.m. in Smith Auditorium, Sills Hall. Tickets are not necessary, but seating is limited.