Filmed over the course of ten years, How Sweet the Sound is the first film to tell the story of this legendary gospel quartet. The Blind Boys of Alabama met as children in the 1930’s at a state-run segregated vocational school and would become one of the last great gospel quartets, traversing the famed “gospel highway” and beyond. As the surviving band members recount their unlikely success story, we see a rare, frank view of life on and off the road with these renowned performers, now in their 70’s and 80’s.
Leslie McCleave’s previous work includes the supernatural, environmental-awareness tale Road, which won the Outstanding Performance Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival and was acquired by Showtime, iTunes, and Snag Films. Her narrative short films, Avenue X, Blixa Bargeld Stole My Cowboy Boots, and Meeting Marty have screened at numerous festivals and venues including New Directors/New Films at the Museum of Modern Art, Berlin International Film Festival, Institute of Contemporary Art (London), Lollapalooza, and have received top awards at the Sundance, Locarno, San Francisco, and South by Southwest Film Festivals. Her films have been broadcast nationally and internationally on Sundance Channel, Showtime, Film Four UK, TV2000 and PBS. In 2011 she created the 5-screen, 9/11 documentary installation cedarliberty, (with Elena del Rivero), presented at the International Center of Photography in New York City and at the New York State Museum in Albany. Her work has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Capital Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, Irish Film Board and the Sundance Institute. How Sweet the Sound is her first documentary feature.
Films and Filmmakers is a program of the The Film Institute at Montclair State, an initiative of the College of the Arts. The program features weekly visits of filmmakers who come to speak about their work and profession. The series, open to both University students and the general public, welcomes audience questions while being a unique forum to hear inside stories from some of the most innovative filmmakers working in the field today.