X: The Unheard Music

Director: W.T. Morgan
Screenwriters: W.T. Morgan


It's 1985. The Gipper is president, and FM radio is a fairly new medium that takes some risks, playing actual punk rock. One such band simply calls itself "X." Rejected by music executives, the band builds a cultlike following through small tours and limited radio play. Its influence grows in unforeseen directions behind its brash poetess singer and her unconventionally feminine voice.

Director W.T. Morgan decided to document this groundbreaking band's story in a manner just as innovative as the band itself. Spare interviews, concert footage, and a seemingly random collection of images are all we're given to guide us through the band's history. No narration, no traditional plot structure—just montages of old '50s-era advertisements that accompany the beat of John Doe's oddly catchy bass guitar and lead singer Exene Cervenka's growling voice. Morgan trusts that audiences will grasp the irony of counterbalancing these montages with the angst X embodies.

Two decades later, X's musical influence is an undeniable precursor to the soft-core quasi-punk that dominates the current "indie" rock scene. The cinema vérité techniques used in X: The Unheard Music may have been equally ahead of their time.

— Duncan Moench

Screening Details

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