The Joy of Sound

    • Industry
    • November 22, 2016
    • By Geoffrey Macnab

    Panamanian director Ana Endara Mislov was "thinking about happiness" when she had the idea for her new documentary, The Joy of Sound, an international premiere in the mid-length competition.

    DOCTV had just launched a call for filmmakers from Latin America to make documentaries and Endara was keen to apply for funding. "They wanted us to treat the subject of happiness. I was giving company to a friend of mine who was broken hearted," the director remembers. This friend, who appears in the movie, had just ended a relationship. He was trying to console himself by listening to music played through his brand new pair of hi-fi speakers. A phrase came into Endara's head … "la felicidad del sonido" ("the joy of sound"). This, she decided, would be her subject. The film would explore just how sound gives us pleasure – and also how it sometimes fills us with dismay.

    Characters in the doc include a blind woman ("a sensory presence, she just absorbs sound"); a musician who is also a firefighter and lives to drive around in his car blasting music from his speakers; and a man launching his own pirate radio station. "They have this common obsession … this passion for sound," the director says.

    Making the film was a "very playful process." She edited it with artist friend Jonathan Harker. Together, they looked to give the documentary "musical rhythm, emotional rhythm."
    Endara believes that documentary makers don't pay enough attention to sound. "It's also in life. We are very centred and driven by our visual sense. If you think about it, we get more information from sound than visuals … if you pay attention to sound and to the soundscapes around you, you are somehow anchored to the present because you are not thinking about the past or the future. You are in the moment. It is a really nice exercise."

    The director has some advice: if you've got a broken heart, listen to something to console yourself. Sound "can be good for the heart."

    Endara's 2013 doc Majesty was in Docs for Sale. Joy of Sound, though, is her first film in competition at the festival. She studied at Cuba's renowned Escuela Internacional de Cine y Television de San Antonio de Los Baños. "What took me to Cuba? The chance to study film," she answers her own question. (There is, as she points out, no film school in Panama.)

    After leaving Film School, she spent several years working in publicity until she received a grant to make her first documentary, Curundu (2007). "Earning a living from making documentaries in Panama is impossible," she sighs. Nonetheless, there is now a national film fund in place (administered by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry) and prospects are looking up.

    The Panamanian director has several other projects in development, among them one very intriguing animated project about the craze among Panamanians to get into the Guinness Book of Records. Called Panamazing, the film looks at the desire of Panamanians to prove to the outside world that their homeland is, indeed, amazing. Other projects are Memory Loop, about Señor Loop (one of the country's greatest rock bands) and Flying Blind, about an elderly woman who turns her house into a museum celebrating her life and work.

    The Joy of Sound

    • Ana Endara Mislov
    • 2016
    • 61 min

      An ode to sound, that mysterious, invisible and intangible phenomenon that brings pleasure and togetherness – and sometimes irritation.

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