Three musical morality tales are beautifully performed, and their stories effectively re-enacted, in “Bardsongs,” a sweet-sounding slice of exotica from Dutch docu helmer Sander Francken (“Dealing and Wheeling in Small Arms”). Though set in Rajasthan and Kashmir, India, and in Mali, the pic emphasizes the universal life lessons of the local tunes, making this a low-threshold item even for younger auds (provided they’re willing to read to the subtitles). Fests and pubcasters should come a-knocking.

Each of the songs consists of a fictional mise-en-scene accompanying the lyrics, bookended by footage of the bards and musicians performing the song. In the first and strongest story, a Jodhpur plastic collector (Dhamender Singh) refuses to pass judgment on whatever befalls him. In part two, a boy (Kolado Bocoum) from a Koran school in Djenne, Mali, tries to find out what the greatest part of all knowledge is. In the weakest, closing seg, a man (Tsewang Spalgon) and his daughter (Deachen Yangdol) travel with their pack animal through the Himalayas, listening to the oft-contradictory advice of passersby. Cinematography expertly showcases the foreign locales; the all-important music is sharply produced.



  • Production: A Cinema Delicatessen release of an SF Film production, in association with Organization for Hindu Media, Netherlands Muslim Public Broadcast Organization, Dutch Buddhist Broadcast Foundation. (International sales: Film Europe, Prague.) Produced, directed by Sander Francken. Screenplay, Joost Schickx, Francken.
  • Crew: Camera (color, HD), Sal Kroonenberg, Melle van Essen, Bert Pot; editor, Gys Zevenbergen; music, Sakar Kahn, Afel Bocoum, Tsiring Stanzin, Morup Namgyal, Aditya Bhasin, Rainer Michel; art director, Digambar Talekar. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (Another View), July 5, 2010. Running time: 94 MIN.
  • With: With: Dhamender Singh, Kishan Soni, Reshna Bano, Kolado Bocoum, Abba Bilancoro, Fatoumata Camara, Tsewang Spalgon, Deachen Yangdol. (Hindi, Bamanankan, Ladakhi dialogue)