Review: ‘Sound of the Soul: The Fez Festival of World Sacred Music’

The intersection between spirituality and world-music is pinpointed in "Sound of the Soul," a handsome docu about the Fez Festival in Morocco. Event, which takes place annually in the North African city renowned for its history of tolerance, offers attendees a platform where they can tie together music and faith as a universal bond.

The intersection between spirituality and world-music is pinpointed in “Sound of the Soul,” a handsome docu about the Fez Festival in Morocco. Event, which takes place annually in the North African city renowned for its history of tolerance, offers attendees a platform where they can tie together music and faith as a universal bond. New Age-leaning auds most receptive to that message might float limited arthouse exposure of the docu; niche popularity on DVD seems assured.

Slightly gushy narration from Padma Prakasha posits the Fez Fest as a place where diverse musical magic promotes global peace and eco-friendliness. Why the event draws diplomats, World Trade Organization officials and multinational corporate honchos is not explained. However, the main attraction is the lineup of frequently astonishing acts glimpsed and (more importantly) heard. They range from ethereal Irish vocal group Anuna and mournful Portuguese singer Katia Guerriro to choirs devoted to early Euro-Russo sacred music. Groups from outside the West are often intensely rhythmic and ecstatic, though most raucous is New York City brass band Sons of Thunder. There’s great sonic variety among the Moroccan acts alone. Wide-format DV lensing and sound recording are first-rate.

Sound of the Soul: The Fez Festival of World Sacred Music

Production

A CEM production. Produced, directed by Stephen Olsson.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen, DV), Andy Black, Olsson; editors, Rhoda Collins, Marianne Yusavage. Reviewed at Mill Valley Film Festival, Oct. 7, 2005. Running time: 78 MIN.

With

Sayed Temsamani Group, Malhoun, Francoise Atlan & the Mohammed Brioul Orchestra, Fraja, Farida Mahwash and the Kabul Ensemble, Anuna, Sama Souhouri, Tariqa Harraquia, Katia Guerriro, the Tallis Scholars, Dimi Mint Abba, Nass El Ghawane, the McCollough Sons of Thunder, Gnawa, the Sirine Choir, Venance Fortunat. Narrator: Padma Prakasha.
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