Three years before Syrian/American composer Kareem Roustom scored film director Julia Bacha’s documentary Budrus, he composed an award-winning score for her 2006 film Encounter Point. The film is about members of the Bereaved Families Forum, a group of Israelis and Palestinians who have been touched by the violence in the region and who are part of a growing movement, working together to end the regional conflict and build a lasting peace through non-violent means. The film-makers follow Forum members hoping to show how even with differing attitudes (both within and outside the Forum) it is possible to work together with a common goal of securing a better future. For this score, Roustom fuses together both Arabic classical and klezmer musicians (klezmer is a musical tradition of the Ashkenazic Jews of Eastern Europe) to fashion a score that is much more rooted in the Middle East compared with Budrus.
Roustom’s music is surprisingly upbeat considering the film’s subject matter. It’s not what I would call happy music but there’s an optimism running through a lot of the music that makes for a very enjoyable album. The heavy use of Middle Eastern percussion and tempo is a main driver for this upbeat quality, and the inclusion of additional instruments such as clarinet adds melodic lines that enhance the positive tones. The “Main Title” and tracks such as “Windows – Ruti” showcases how these two aspects of the score meld together to good effect. Tracks where ethnic percussion alone provides the music are particularly memorable: “Seeds of Peace 1” and “Driving With Ali” have an inherent power that is immediately apparent even though the tracks themselves are relatively short. Over half of the tracks on the album are under one minute in length and this does tend to break up the listening experience. But as the film is a documentary a significant proportion of Roustom’s music is probably used to set scenes or as transitions between scenes and so short, bridging tracks would be necessary. Bu the music is so listenable that their short playing time does not really matter. Read the rest of this entry »