Coming to NYC’s Rooftop Films tomorrow, Tuesday, June 7 and to theatres this Friday, June 10: THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS: YO YO MA & THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE
Morgan Neville’s look at a diverse collective of world musicians made its bow at Toronto last Fall. Further fest play included Berlin, True/False, San Francisco, Montclair, DocAviv, Los Angeles, and the upcoming Sydney, Provincetown, and Biografilm.
The Oscar-winning Neville finds more unsung musicians to profile in his latest project, although his subjects here had already established themselves in their home countries before the renowned Yo Yo Ma gathered them together to explore the cross-cultural potential of music. While Ma is the instigating force here, and offers viewers a surprising candor about the perpetual restlessness – and perhaps boredom – he’s felt around his default career in music since his days as a child prodigy, his story is but one shared in Neville’s engaging portrait of Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. While the film traces this eclectic group’s origins in a 2000 experiment, it’s grounded more in the recent past, with profiles of a few other members of the band. Wisely foregrounding personalities over performances so that those who are not necessarily enamored with world music have a way in, Neville still manages to showcase enough music to demonstrate the fruits of Ma’s collaborative vision as well as its impact on the participants and audiences.