Jean Painlevé

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The Pick: Jean Painlevé’s hypnotic underwater films, accompanied live by Yo La Tengo

In 1930, a silent science film documenting skeleton shrimp and sea spiders screened in Paris, earning accolades from painter Marc Chagall, who called it “genuine art,” and artist Fernand Léger, who said it was the loveliest ballet he’d ever seen (he would know). The film was by French Surrealist director Jean Painlevé, who spent the better part of the 20th century shooting some of the most dazzling underwater footage ever committed to film (when he wasn’t hobnobbing with Luis Buñuel and Jean Vigo). In 2002, indie darlings Yo La Tengo recorded The Sounds of the Sounds of Science, an original soundtrack for 11 of Painlevé’s short films; this Saturday, at the closing gala for the Images Festival, the band will be performing the score live to accompany a screening of Painlevé’s work.

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