Residents film poster

The Residents – a mysterious music, art, and multimedia collective long associated with the San Francisco Bay Area – are stepping into the spotlight as part of this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF). After top-notch reviews from their SXSW debut, Theory of Obscurity: a film about The Residents will make its first local appearances tonight (Friday, May 1) and this Sunday, May 3 at the Sundance Kabuki Theater.

Hardcore fans of The Residents will be delighted by never-before-seen footage unearthed from the vaults of the Cryptic Corporation, the “management team” that has kept the identity of The Residents under wraps since 1976. The film encapsulates over forty years of “Residential art” into eighty minutes that include interviews with all original members of the Cryptic Corporation and musicians who have felt the influence of the largely unknown band:

Not aware of The Residents? “No problem,” says Josh Keppel, Producer and Cinematographer of the film:

One of the things I think is so interesting about The Residents is that the vast majority of people have never heard of them, yet The Residents have managed to influence a great deal of artists who have massive fan bases. In the film you hear from The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, Primus front man Les Claypool, magician Penn Jillette, Ween guitarist Dean Ween, as well as Devo’s Jerry Casale and Jerry Harrison from the Talking Heads. Even Ke$ha is shown touring with fake Residents on stage. So, while The Residents have remained relatively obscure and unknown, the reach of their artistic influence has ultimately touched millions.

Theory of Obscurity came about when Director Don Hardy, Barton Bishoff and Keppel – who used to work together shooting TV news in the Bay Area – got together one night at the end of 2012 for beers and Don said he wanted to make a music documentary. Keppel suggested The Residents, having previously worked with the Cryptic Corporation and knowing they had lots of video material ripe for the picking. A few weeks later, they were on the road with the band during a tour celebrating their forty years together.

Get more info and tickets to this weekend’s showings of Theory of Obscurity: a film about The Residents here.