Documentaries are all the rage nowadays. All it takes is a few key items and you’re set. First, you need a camera, hopefully a nice one, none of that skate video looking stuff. Second, you will probably Final Cut Pro or some other comparable program for editing. Third, and this might be hard to find, you need an original and interesting story. A documentary is only as strong as its subject, unless you’re Errol Morris and then you could probably make anything weirdly cool. That being said, here comes a delectable little documentary that is sure to catch you off guard by its charm and it rhythm.
“Crossing The Bridge: The Sounds of Istanbul” is a film that is as repetitive in its synchronized times signature as it is in its explicit message. The film is a magnifying glass on one of the world’s most interesting cities and the cultural and musical clash that is taking place there right now. Writer/documentary filmmaker Faith Akin has chronicled a journey through the Erasian crossroad of Istanbul and all of the distinctive sides of Turkish music. The film goes from the streets to clubs and outdoor amphitheatres to find its distinct sound. “Crossing The Bridge” uses its musical interludes to show how the music from Istanbul is strictly about life in the city. The music and the musicians work together to express the anxiety created in a place that considers itself neither of western or eastern tradition, but rather a fusion of the two.
Our story follows German bass guitarist Alexander Hacke. Hacke considers himself something of a local after nearly a decade of travel to Istanbul. As a bass guitarist he has familiarized himself with many musicians and local music scenes. Being our well-qualified guide, Hacke explains how this time around he has come with twelve microphones to record everything he hears and acting as our narrator for the entirety of the film. Over the course of the film we meet many generations of Istanbul musicians and get to sample a wide variety of continuously playing music. The film should be commended; as movie about music, the soundtrack is constantly playing music. Hacke visits with every type of band in Istanbul; from the grunge group Duman and hip hop quartet CEZA, to Turkish classic rocker Erkin Koray and the bebop-esque jam sessions of the Romany province of Turkey. The music scene is in Turkey is going through somewhat of a renaissance. The musicians all agree that a large part of their distinctive sound comes from the geographical location of their city between two continents as well as the sorrow that exists between the people of such a large city. The music is astonishing and our foreign ears will initially jump at the novelty of the sound but become smitten by the relentless beats withheld in 5/8, 7/8 and 9/8 time signatures.
There are a number of reasons why one should go see “Crossing The Bridge: The Sounds of Istanbul.” As far as a documentary is concerned, this one has much more life than the usual Michael Moore political rant. Foreign films are usually a safe bet as well; if they made over to America there has got to be a good reason why. Also, when was the last time you saw a Turkish film? Last but certainly not least, our good friends over at Arts & Lectures are putting it on and they know how to pick quality films full of thought. “Crossing The Bridge: The Sounds of Istanbul” plays at Campbell Hall on April 12 at 7:30 p.m.