Featuring multinational cantors all converging on Poland for a series of special concerts, scattershot docu “100 Voices” promotes as many agendas as it boasts participants. Some organizers seek to redeem Poland’s bad rep for its role in the Holocaust, while others want to regift it with that chunk of its cultural heritage exterminated along with the Jews. Individual cantors wander in search of their roots, yanking the docu hither and yon on unrelated pilgrimages. And, occasionally, men and women sing. Currently playing limited engagements after its one-week Oscar-qualifying run, “Voices” pushes enough ethnological hot buttons to please presold target auds.
Amazing archival clips portraying bygone cantors as the rock stars of their day reveal a wide range of liturgical stylings, from scat and jazz to full-on operatic. But historical threads are largely left dangling. The filmmakers over-edit potentially fascinating material, and even the concert footage is arbitrarily curtailed; receiving only passing notice are Krakow’s popular annual Jewish music festival, geared toward and often performed by non-Jewish Poles, and Warsaw’s Yiddish theater, whose entire repertoire is thesped by goyim. Virtually every aspect of this journey merits more cohesive treatment.