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Film Festival hosts premiere of 'The Music Never Stopped' on May 10

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Sundance sensation featuring stellar ensemble cast debuts in Tuesday Cinema Series  

J.K. Simmons leads a stellar ensemble cast in the inspiring drama “The Music Never Stopped” which makes its Northern Arizona premiere in Sedona on Tuesday, May 10. This one-night special engagement is presented by the Sedona International Film Festival.  There will be two screenings of the film at 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. at Harkins Sedona Six Theatres.

A critical and audience sensation at the recent Sundance Film Festival, “The Music Never Stopped” stars J.K. Simmons, Lou Taylor Pucci, Julia Ormond and Cara Seymour.  The film, based on the case study “The Last Hippie” by Dr. Oliver Sacks, M.D. (“Awakenings”), chronicles the journey of a father and son adjusting to cerebral trauma and a lifetime of missed opportunities.

“We are so proud to present this touching and inspiring film which combines a moving story, superb performances and a testament to the healing power of music,” said festival director Patrick Schweiss.

Through the music that embodied the generation gap of the 1960s, the film weaves the heartwarming progress of father and son, Henry and Gabriel (played by J.K. Simmons and Lou Taylor Pucci, respectively). With both on the opposite side of musical tastes as well as politics and the war in Vietnam, Gabriel disappears into the counterculture following a devastating confrontation with his father. The film opens nearly two decades later, when Henry and his wife Helen (Cara Seymour) are told their son has been found wandering the streets of New York City.

Gabriel has a brain tumor that has caused extensive brain damage, and needs immediate surgery. When he recovers, he is in a near-catatonic state, his brain damaged to the point that it cannot recall or create any long-term memories. Effectively, Gabriel still thinks he is in 1968.

After his operation, the extent of Gabriel’s condition is made clear: the tumor damaged the part of the brain that creates new memories. For Gabriel, past, present, and future are indistinguishable, and he still lives in the era of Vietnam, acid tests, and psychedelic music. Determined not to let their son slip away from them again, Henry and Helen vow to connect with Gabriel, who is barely able to communicate effectively.


Unhappy with Gabriel’s progress, Henry researches brain injuries, which leads him to Dr. Dianne Daly (Julia Ormond). She is a music therapist who has made progress with victims of brain tumors using music. As Diane works more with Gabriel, she realizes that he seems to respond actively to the music of the psychedelic era – the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and particularly the Grateful Dead – which has a remarkable effect on Gabriel.

Gabriel is able to have conversations and express himself even though he is unaware the era of his music has long passed. Henry can’t stand rock and roll – but he is determined to forge some memories and a new relationship with his son. While his own health fails, Henry begins his own pilgrimage through the bands of the sixties. As he learns the songs that animate his son’s soul, he indeed begins to form a most unusual but emotionally vibrant bond with the child he thought he had lost.


“The connection between music and memory, between father and son, and between letting go and holding on, is what makes ‘The Music Never Stopped’ a unique story,” said director/producer Jim Kohlberg. For Gabriel, although the music can never fully ‘heal’ him, it can bring both him and his father to a place where the old grudges and bitter differences fall away.”

The title sponsors for this event are Studio Live and the Sedona Performers Guild. Musicians from the guild will perform in concert for 20 minutes before each show, so come early and enjoy songs from the film performed by our incredible local musicians.

The series is also made possible by a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Sedona, and the Sedona Community Foundation.

“The Music Never Stopped” will be shown at Harkins Sedona Six Theatres on Tuesday, May 10 at 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $12, or $9 for Film Festival members, and will be available starting at 3:00 p.m. that day in the Harkins lobby. Cash or checks only. Film Sedona members can purchase tickets in advance at the Sedona International Film Festival office, 2030 W. Hwy. 89A, Suite A3-4, or by calling 282-1177.


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