Five renowned musicians come together to perform a one-off concert in a small Sicilian town in the superbly wrought docu “Silence: All Roads Lead to Music.” Using copious rehearsal footage, multihypenate Haider Rashid masterfully conveys the magic of improvisation as Tom Donald (Australian virtuoso pianist), Giancarlo Parisi (Sicilian bagpipes, sax and flute), Tanino Lazaro (accordion), Luca Recupero (Jew’s harp, didgeridoo and tambourine) and Giacomo Farina (percussion) learn to speak each other’s musical languages. A film about artistic craftsmanship that prioritizes pure sound over concert logistics, the pic reps quality fare for broadcast, fests and world music-education outlets.
The idea for “The Silence Project,” the moniker under which the ensemble performed, came from Farina, a producer as well as musician. Helmer Rashid follows him as he persuades the others to take part, explaining his aim to create a unique sound blending Sicilian, Arabic, jazz and world music, to be performed on traditional (or one might even say trance) instruments and to serve as a bridge between cultures. Discussions with each man about his instruments and musical practice are mixed in along the way.
Training his camera like a fly on the wall of the rehearsal room, Rashid captures moments of creation and discovery. His intimate lensing focuses on the musicians’ faces, fingers and instruments, showing them in rapt concentration, even in near-fugue states. It is fascinating to watch the interaction of the men, who easily comprehend each other despite the fact that Donald doesn’t understand Italian and the four Italians barely speak English.
As the men rehearse, creating a song they dub “Fire From Volcano,” Rashid mixes in black-and-white newsreel footage of Sicilian volcanic eruptions. He also uses unusual, artful compositions to show the beauty of the ancient island and concert venue. Sound work is everything it should be.
Although the Fondazione Horcynus Orca concert was planned as a onetime event, the men declare on camera that they’ve had too much satisfaction to end their collaboration; thus, the film’s world premiere at the Dubai fest also featured an outdoor concert by the Silence Project.