Theory of Obscurity: A Film About the Residents

  • Directed by Don Hardy
  • United States, 2015, 87 mins.

The avant-garde music and multimedia collective known as The Residents has never revealed the identity of its members, who always appear in costume in extravagant live musical performances and filmed projects. Don Hardy’s witty film tells the story of the group’s start in rural Louisiana, its artistic awakening in late-‘60s San Francisco, and follows its members to the present day, where they are still actively creating and performing. The film showcases a trove of archival materials alongside contemporary performances and interviews with the band’s longtime “business managers,” the Cryptic Corporation, and features appearances by a wide variety of creative minds—including Penn Jillette, Jerry Harrison, Les Claypool of Primus, Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening and members of Neurosis, Henry Cow and Ween—all of whom were drawn to the group’s uncompromising focus on creative control over conventional commercial success.

Genres: Music, Documentary