SFIFF ’08: Fados

Here’s my first preview of music-related films in this year’s 51st SF International Film Festival.

Production still

Fados is a film about the Fado genre of nostalgic songs. It’s showing Saturday 4/26 at 2:45p @ Castro , Monday 4/28 at 1:30p @ Kabuki and Tuesday 4/29 at 8:45p at the Kabuki.

As far as style of film, I wouldn’t call this a documentary. Rather it’s a series of filmed theatrical performances. It has vignettes of artistically filmed performers and dancers partially silhouetted against colored backgrounds or in museum-like settings, like a well-done film of a theater production.

While there were some interesting parts, particularly sections that were related to the Brazilian carnival, Mozambique (complete with that typical South African bass pick up) and rap, I can’t say I liked this film. Most of the music wasn’t to my taste, which I could find forgivable if the film gave me a good idea of the historical significants or cultural impact of Fado. But other than a few sentences of text near the beginning, there was very little in this movie besides the performances.

Now, I have no idea what the story of these particular performances were and I have no idea was truly authentic Fado sounds like, but I couldn’t help feel like I was watching something akin to a (artistically) filmed production of Riverdance. You could call Riverdance an introduction to Irish music and dance, but you’d be misleading at the least; that musical, while entertaining, is a watered down and glossy version of Irish music and dance prepared for mass consumption. Is Fados similar in that manner? I can’t say for sure.

Finally the film’s running time is 93 minutes, which is quite a bit too long.

In summary, I wouldn’t recommend this film.

Stay tuned tomorrow for another SFIFF music-related film preview. Preview of the preview: I liked that one more than this one.

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