Posted by Alan Rogers on October 18, 2011
Original Review by Alan Rogers
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 »
Posted in Reviews | Tagged: audio clips, Encounter Point, film music, film score, Kareem Roustom, Reviews, Soundtracks | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Alan Rogers on September 3, 2011
Original Review by Alan Rogers
Budrus is a 2009 Israeli/Palestinian/American documentary film directed by Julia Bacha that follows the non-violent demonstrations conducted by the residents of the Palestinian town of Budrus during the early 2000s in protest at the planned Israeli security barrier to be built around the town. The barrier would separate the town from land and olive trees important for the town’s economy and history. Containing contributions from both sides, Bacha manages to provide a testimony to the power of peaceful protest and gives a film that many reviewers agree manages not to take sides.
Syrian/American composer Kareem Roustom is an Emmy nominated composer who has composed a score that reflects the film’s ability not to take sides by giving the film a musical score that does not provide too much of an emotional input to the film. With cues such as “The First Demonstration” and “Girl Meets Bulldozer”, where you would expect in a drama there to be music that emphasises aspects such as the courage of the downtrodden against the aggressor in any other “us versus them” conflict, etc, Roustom chooses to underscore these scenes with quiet almost reflective music that uses the various parts of the musical ensemble to provide a backdrop to the situations. Roustom’s musical upbringing is based in the musical traditions of the Arab Near East and, together with his Western music training, he is at home both scoring the film with music that gives a strong sense of place (relying on what sounds like instruments such as the buzuq (a long necked lute), tablah (a small hand drum) and daff (a type of tambourine)) and giving the music a Western feel also – a small string ensemble and acoustic guitar features prominently in a significant proportion of the score. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Reviews | Tagged: Budrus, film music, film score, Kareem Roustom, Reviews, Soundtracks | Leave a Comment »