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Crossing The Bridge: The Sound Of Istanbul Review

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There is a huge amount of music being produced in Istanbul, thanks to a vast array of influences brought with the vast array of cultures now inhabiting the city. Fatih Akin takes a closer look.

★★★★★

Scratch beneath the everyday hubbub of a modern city, and you’ll uncover a wealth of music that defines its heritage and inhabitants. This is certainly true of Istanbul, where East meets West as the edges of Asia and Europe rub together on the banks of the Bosporus.

In his follow-up to the excellent Head On, Turkish director Fatih Akin documents the sounds of a city, from gypsy folk traditions to the pulse of North African rhythms and the Arabic-influenced chromatic melodies of modern rock. Rapper Ceza and Kurdish singer Aynur stand out, but the film’s structure seems rather random. Unlike Ry Cooder’s meandering around Havana in Buena Vista Social Club, the narration by Alexander Hacke (bassist in German band Einstürzende Neubauten) distracts rather than enlightens.

It opens the audience's ears to the diversity and vitality of Istanbul's music scene but, as a documentary, it lacks the mainstream appeal of Buena Vista Social Club.