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Sound of the Soul

New York Premiere

USA | 68 MINUTES | Arabic, English, French |


Documentary, Music
The global rise of religious fundamentalism and its frightening effect on international politics can make mutual respect and dialogue between people of different cultures and faiths seem like an impossible dream. But as this thoughtful documentary shows, music is a language that is understood by every faith. At the center of the film is the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music in Morocco, a week-long concert that brings together an astonishing array of musicians, including a female-led Sufi group from Afghanistan, a choir dedicated to ancient Russian church music, an all-brass gospel group from New York, and a French-Algerian Jew who sings in Andalusian with Muslim musicians. But perhaps the most remarkable element of Stephen Olsson's touching documentary is that this rich musical event engenders real conversation, a characteristic that seems to spring organically from the essence of the city of Fez, which was expressly founded on the principles of religious tolerance and learning. To complement the musical footage, the film shows religious leaders, scholars, and representatives from both the World Trade Organization and the World Bank engaged in discussions about how to make inter-faith dialog and spirituality the guideposts for moving forward in an ever-globalizing world. A moving testament to the healing power of music, Sound of the Soul offers a microcosmic vision of what a culture of tolerance can achieve and gives hope that such an approach might spread to the world outside Fez.


Directed by Ishai Setton and Stephen Olsson

Producer and director of documentaries, television series, and feature news reports, Stephen Olsson focuses on international issues and character-driven stories and has won the George Foster Peabody Award. His other films include: Our House in Havana, and Afghanistan: The Fight For a Way of Life, which The New York Times called one of the best documentary films of the year. Thrice nominated for the Emmy™ awards, he won for outstanding director for Last Images of War, narrated by Ben Kingsley. Olsson also wrote and produced School Colors, a three-part PBS documentary that received the Dupont-Columbia Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism and was cited by The Boston Globe as one of the year's best television programs. He has also produced television documentaries, news features, and development programming in Africa, Eastern Europe, Central and South Asia, and Latin America.