Sundance 2019: “The Sound of Silence” in US Dramatic Competition

Directed by Michael Tyburski, “The Sound of Silence” follows a self-taught “house tuner” in New York (Peter Sarsgaard) adjusting the sonic harmony of people’s environments to cure a myriad of disorders, including anxiety, depression and fatigue. When he meets a new client (Rashida Jones) experiencing a problem he can’t seem to solve, his life begins to unravel. The film is based on Tyburski’s short film “Palimpsest,” winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

“The Sound of Silence” is written by Ben Nabors, and produced by Michael Prall, Mandy Tagger Bockley and Adi Ezroni. Additionally, Bockley and Ezroni are co-heads of Keshet Films, a new film division from media company Keshet Studios. “The Sound of Silence” marks the pair’s first feature under the new banner.

Michael Tyburski, director of Sound of Silence, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

When I asked how they discovered the film’s director Michael Tyburski, Bockley and Ezroni explain that UTA sent them his feature-length script with glowing praise: “The manuscript was the full-length version of his short,” explains Bockley, previously head of production at InDigEnt, an outfit renowned for championing low-cost digital movies from a myriad of independent filmmakers. “We bought into Michael’s vision immediately and went along for the ride.“

“The theory of a house tuner that calibrates people’s sonic environment was a fascinating concept,” adds Ezroni. “I have a sensitivity to white noise myself so the script resonated with me on so many levels. I just had a positive reaction to the material.”

Ezroni and Bockley have had a history of producing successful features, co-founding Spring Pictures together in 2009 before opening Keshet International, films including “A Late Quartet” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken and Catherine Keener; “The English Teacher” starring Julianne Moore, Greg Kinnear and Lily Collins; and, “Kelly & Cal,” the SXSW Game Changer award winner starring Juliette Lewis and Jonny Weston.

To better convey the film’s atmosphere, “The Sound of Silence” features full Dolby Atmos sound added after Dolby provided a grant for Tyburski to build a compelling 3-dimensional environment. A grant from the Sundance Composers Lab (a program connecting composers and directors to nurture the development of music in film) also helped fine-tune the film’s feel with a score from composer Will Bates.

“We hope that people see this film as a little love letter to New York,” says Ezroni of the film’s international sale, excited to see how the film will fare on the international market. “There is a fable element to the story. It’s a small but magical feature, and we hope that it resonates and connects with audiences worldwide.”