Synopsis by Mark Deming
Documentary filmmaker Alan Berliner has a name, just like everyone else, but he's not sure just what it's supposed to mean, and in this film he looks at his own moniker and those of a number of other people, as he tries to get to the bottom of the mystery of human names. Berliner humorously explores the heritage of his Christian name (depending on what language source you consult, "Alan" can mean "peace" or "rock"), interviews his short-tempered father about how he was named (he offers little useful insight), documents his own frustration when people confuse him with French filmmaker Alain Berliner, and even organizes a dinner party for 12 different men who share the name "Alan Berliner." Along the way, Alan also visits a society for women named Linda, studies which names were most popular in particular decades, and explores the myths and realities about how some immigrants had their names changed at Ellis Island. The Sweetest Sound was shown in competition at the 2001 Berlin Film Festival.
family, heritage, identity, name-change, self-identity, social-conventions