"How do you convey the power, magic and mystery of names? The way they confer identity? How they function as compressed histories -- a set of codes that tell us where we come from, who we are, who we were, or sometimes even who we might want to be? The only way I could figure out how to do it was to fully examine one name very closely. My own."
Alan Berliner is a lawyer in Columbus, Ohio. Alan Berliner is a social worker in Seattle, Washington. Alan Berliner is a celebrity photographer in Los Angeles, California. Tired of being mistaken for these people and anyone else who might share his name, Alan Berliner, the filmmaker from New York -- not to be confused with Belgian filmmaker Alain Berliner -- decides to rid himself of the dreaded Same Name Syndrome. His solution: invite all the Alan Berliners in the world over to his house for dinner.
With the intimacy and humor of a personal essay, Berliner dives headfirst inside the American name pool in search of the treasures and dangers hidden inside his own name. A film that starts out in search of identity slowly transforms into a meditation on mortality. Along the way, he confronts his parents about the origins of his name, his sister about the names she gave her children and visits the Jim Smith Society, the National Linda Convention, the streets of New York, Holocaust name memorials, the Vietnam Memorial and the AIDS Quilt. He also stumbles upon some surprising news about name changes at Ellis Island.
In the end Berliner leaves us with a greater sense of the power and magic embedded in a name, and how all of our identities are inescapably shaped by what we call ourselves. A film guaranteed to make you think twice about the who, the why and the where contained in every name, THE SWEETEST SOUND has Berliner's inimitable filmmaking signature written all over it.