The public relations team for the Tribeca Film Festival, presented by AT&T, and the outside PR firms that are representing films, are on their A+ game.
The advance screenings have placed me in a pickle because, so far, everything is excellent. In an effort to carve out a preview from superlative films, I am going to step out and suggest two documentaries and strongly encourage you to see the Short Series, which runs April 16–19. “The Shaman” is particularly fine.
Sometimes when you say the word “documentary,” it’s perceived as “boring” or depressing. Although, sometimes that’s true, it isn’t for “Song of Lahore” and “In My Fathers’ House.”
“Song of Lahore” has a way of burrowing inside of you, but that’s a good thing because it’s a tremendous come-back story wrapped around two distinctive musical styles. Produced by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, it’s her first since winning an Academy Award (“Saving Face”).
Long gone are the ancient palaces and stately gardens of Lahore in Pakistan circa 1947, when it 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 who called Lahore home.
Today, that vision of Lahore exists only in myth. Culture and art have been shattered. 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, Majeed 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.
The rendition of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” becomes a sensation, and Wynton Marsalis invites the the musicians 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.
In 2012, Time Magazine included Obaid-Chinoy in their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
“In My Father’s House,” directed by Emmy-nominated directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, is a tremendous documentary and rewarding surprise.
This hard-hitting film examines the plight of Che “Rhymefest” Smith, a co-writer on the Academy Award-winning and Golden Globe-winning original song “Glory” and also “Jesus Walks” and “Bullet.”
Set against the crumbling landscape of Chicago’s battered south side, “In My Father’s House” is a yearlong journey to find his father. A child of a broken home, Smith hasn’t seen his father, Brian, in more than 25 years, and presumes him dead. But after buying his father’s childhood home, Smith sets out to find him, and learns that he is now a homeless alcoholic living only a few blocks away. Determined to rehabilitate him—and forge a new legacy for his own young family—Smith soon realizes his father might not be ready to take on the responsibilities asked of him.
“In My Fathers’ House” will have its World Premiere Thursday, April 16 at 9:00 p.m. at the SVA Theatre (Theater 1). A Q&A with the filmmakers and film subjects will follow.
Visit www.tribecafilm.com/festival for more information about the Tribeca Film Festival’s 2015 programs and the full lineup of films.