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Music Is The Message from Silverdocs

Music is definitely the message in the special sidebar competition of music documentaries that are being showcased at this year's SILVERDOCS. Last evening, Gypsy rocker Bela Fleck and Malian musician Cheick Hamala Diabaté, gave a live performance following the premiere screening of THROW DOWN YOUR HEART by director Sascha Paladino. In the film, American banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck travels to Africa to explore the little-known roots of the instrument and record an album. Fleck’s musical journey takes him through Uganda, Tanzania, The Gambia, and Mali, where he transcends the barriers of language and culture through a shared passion for music.

The film is one of six documentary features that explore a wide range of music and musicians. In HI MY NAME IS RYAN, directors Paul Eagleston and Stephen Rose reveal the talents of Ryan Avery, a 19-year-old alt-culture renaissance man that hs been a local sensation on the Phoenix music scene. A devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he has chosen to forgo his madcap antics for a religious mission that still draws on his innate musical talents.

In LA PALOMA, a German/French co-production by Sigrid Faltin, the focus is on the 1861 song, La Paloma, that has travelled from its native Basque country to Latin America, Hawaii, back to Europe, and finally to Africa. In each country, the tune remained while the meaning changed dramatically. In LIFE SUPPORT: MUSIC by American director Eric Daniel Metzgar, the focus is on 34-year-old Jason Kriglin, who clings to his love of making music despite a massive stroke that has left him in a vegetative state. This is a story of his tenacity, the determined power of familial love, and how music inspires and gives voice to that which words cannot.

A similar theme is struck in SONG SUNG BLUE by American director Greg Kohs. Claire Sadina is part of a musical couple known as "Lightning & Thunder,” who play to hooting crowds at Milwaukee bars and clubs. But when a freak accident leaves Claire immobile, their Vegas dreams are replaced by a reality of rehabilitation, unpaid bills, drug addiction and lost hopes. The transcendence of music to overcome physical frailty is also the theme of COMBINATION, American director Matt Wolf's visual portrait of seminal avant-garde composer, singer-songwriter, cellist and disco producer Arthur Russell. Before his AIDS-related death, Russell created music that spanned pop and the transcendent possibilities of abstract art—a legacy that richly deserves this hip and hypnotic visual tone poem.

Music, and its unique ability to unite differing cultures and transcend physical limitations, is certainly the message at this year's SILVERDOCS.

Sandy Mandelberger, SILVERDOCS Dailies Editor


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