Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Pakistani music doc "Song Of Lahore" opens at Bloor Cinema March 4

Song Of Lahore screens at the Bloor Cinema through to March 10. For tickets and times check the Hot Docs site.
With its ancient palaces and stately gardens, the Lahore of Pakistan's 1947 independence was a haven and a muse for musicians, artists, and poets. The city came alive to the beat of a tabla drum; with a musical culture passed down over centuries and a thriving film industry, opportunities were great for the legion of musicians that called Lahore home.

Today, this vision of Lahore exists only in myth. Islamization, ethnic divisions, war and corruption have torn apart the cultural fabric of Pakistan, and the sounds of the tabla no longer drift through the old city's bazaar.

In 2004, Izzat Majeed founded Sachal Studios to create a space for traditional music in a nation that had rejected its musical roots. After convincing a number of master musicians to pick up their instruments again and join the Sachal Studios Orchestra and the offshoot Sachal Jazz Ensemble, they quietly released some classical and folk albums. But it is an experimental album fusing jazz and South Asian instruments that brings Sachal Studios worldwide acclaim. Their rendition of Dave Brubeck's Take Five becomes a sensation, and Wynton Marsalis invites them to New York to perform with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. After a groundbreaking week of rehearsals fusing the orchestras from Lahore and New York, the musicians take to the stage for a remarkable concert.

Despite their rising international acclaim, Sachal Studios remains virtually unknown in Pakistan. The ensemble is faced with a daunting task; to reclaim and reinvigorate an art that has lost its space in Pakistan’s narrowing cultural sphere.

With their engaging feature-length documentary Song of Lahore, Oscar-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (2010's Pakistan's Taliban Generation, 2012's Saving Face) along with co-director Andy Schocken put the work Izzat Majeed's innovative project in a larger historical context while suggesting that music – if it's allowed to work it's magic – can play a significant role as a healing force for positive social change. Song of Lahore opens at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Friday, March 4 and screens through to Thursday, March 10. Watch the trailer below.

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