Show times: Area premiere of The Swell Season

Dec. 9, 8:15 p.m. | Bright Family Screening Room | Free for Emerson students

Fiction became reality when Glen Hansard and Makéta Irglová fell in love after playing a couple in the Irish musical film Once

The new documentary, The Swell Season, follows the two actor-musicians together as they face the world of fame, discovering themselves, their relationship, and the process they take to create music.

The documentary was filmed while following the band The Swell Season on their two-year world tour following their success with the first film. Once was the darling of the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win the Academy Award for best original song for “Falling Slowly,” and featured several songs by The Swell Season. ArtsEmerson and the Independent Film Festival of Boston (IFFB) will be hosting The Swell Season’s Boston premiere in the Paramount Center’s Bright Family Screening Room tomorrow at 8:15 p.m. 

“It’s a great opportunity to be exposed to not just their music but their life,” said Brian Tamm, the event co-host and employee of IFFB who has worked with the college to get the film screened here.   

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The documentary takes the viewer into the backstage lives of the band, shedding light on the relationship shared between the Irish folk-rock singer Hansard and the Czech singer/songwriter Irglová. Their connection goes beyond the harmonies sung in the band, to a personal love entanglement that started when they first recorded for Once

“The trajectory of the film is more where they stand with each other and how the two people are moving to different ships in the same water,” said Nick August-Perna, co-director of the documentary, in a phone interview.

It took a while for the band to get used to being followed around by cameras, but eventually the players opened up.  The filmmakers manage to catch intense conversations that display the fallout of their romantic relationship.

“They respected us as filmmakers and we respected them as musicians,” said August-Perna. The documentary goes further than simply showcasing the band’s music, delving into the emotional and psychological issues they had to overcome during their two-year tour.

Once was filmed to seem more like a documentary, whereas The Swell Season was filmed with the intention that some scenes feel like fiction. The black and white film stock used in the latter gives the movie a nostalgic, wistful feeling. The story uses the band’s music as a way to move the narrative forward rather than as a break to listen.

“The music is more of like an opera than a music documentary,” said August-Perna, “in the sense that the music that they sing is an expression of their inner life.”