Sam Green makes ‘The Love Song’ a living thing with Yo La Tengo

From left, Green, Fuller (on the screen) and Yo La Tengo create a live cinematic event. The grandnephew of the American Transcendentalist Margaret Fuller, R. Buckminster Fuller was born in Milton, Mass., in 1895 and is buried with his wife in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. Fuller’s enduring legacy is his Utopian ideal of better living through better design. “His idea was that if we built things more efficiently, we could distribute resources more evenly,” says Green, “ and put an end to war.”

Documentary filmmaking isn’t a genre that puts a significant amount of butts in theater seats. This is why Sam Green, whose 2003 documentary “The Weather Underground” was nominated for a 2003 Academy Award, decided that his latest project, “The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller,” would be different. With Green as host, this “live film” comes complete with music by indie rock trio Yo La Tengo.

“You have to accept that someone is going to watch your film on their laptop while checking e-mail and doing Facebook,” says Green. “Or give them something so that they can’t watch in that way. I’m not a Luddite, but I’m a big fan of the magic of seeing a film in a cinema. You give youaself over to this experience. There’s something sublime about that.”

This Boston premiere brings Fuller’s story home, but this architect-philosopher had links to many cities, something Green uses to tailor each performance.

“One of the great things with doing this live piece is you can change it for each show. Fuller traveled so much, everywhere we go we try to work in some local things. The thing about Boston is that there’s too much to put in. The challenge is how to include it all.”

Though Yo La Tengo provides live music, the project puts Green center stage, narrating the onscreen footage. It’s a far cry from writing and directing behind the scenes.

“It’s terrifying. It’s a big challenge,” he admits. “I’m a shy documentary filmmaker. It’s a strange new world.”

If you go
‘The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller’:
A film by Sam Green featuring Yo La Tengo
Saturday, 7 p.m. & 9 p.m.
Institute of Contemporary Art
100 Northern Ave., Boston
$20-$25, 617-478-3100


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