Crossing The Bridge: The Sound 
Of Istanbul

Crossing The Bridge: The Sound Of Istanbul


Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

Art without feeling, without fascination, is pointless.

Crossing The Bridge is a superb and impassioned documentary that investigates the diverse nature of Turkish music, a welcome and often dramatic showcase of talent, insight and involvement. At its best, it reminds me of the same love I have for film. To hear these musicians speak of how their lives are enriched by their work, touches me deeply.

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"Music can tell you everything about a place," we are assured by Dutch bassist Alexander Hacke, who acted as musical director on Fatih Akin's award-winning Head On and is our guide of Istanbul and surrounding cities. We sample, often through a form of cinema verite - Akin and Hacke allow the musicians to speak their minds and perform at will - a surprising mix of styles and traditions. Visiting radio stations, underground clubs, city streets, they discover groups and singers, who form a collage of diverse and individual sounds.

"Istanbul is a city of contradictions." Indeed!

Within minutes of establishing that "Istanbul is a rock city" - inconceivable 10 or 15 years ago - we discover how repressed it once was and learn of a young man who had lived in Seattle for years, only to long for his homeland and to sing in Turkish. And what a show his band puts on, explosive rhythms and vivid vocals, both passionate and lucid.

Hip-hop makes an appearance, albeit in a modified form, hearing the flow of guttural lyrics expressed through street poetry. The lack of 50-Cent style gangsta rap encourages them to find other means for their expression ("We're different, we're political!") and there is even a short stream from a female rapper. The older generation catches on well to their younger counterparts and show appreciation of their steadfast quality.

Other standouts include cheeseball actor/singer Orhan Gencebay, performing unplugged a series of treasurable love treatises, and a simply terrific solo from the Kurdish Aynur. Her performance, intercut with the revelation of a prior banning of the broadcast of Kurdish music from Turkey in the Eighties, left me captivated.

The finale of Sezen Aksu, singing Memories Of Istanbul, over photographs of the city in her youth has potent dramatic power. To hear Hacke lament his failure to even scratch the surface of this astonishingly rich musical scene seems churlish in regard to the film's scope, although I shared his wish to hear more.

Crossing The Bridge is thoughtful, well made and intelligent, knitting together the sociological aspects of the music in a way that doesn't invite chin-stroking, or dull epitomising. It is a fitfully lively, dutifully interesting slice of quality moviemaking.

Reviewed on: 26 Feb 2006
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Crossing The Bridge: The Sound 
Of Istanbul packshot
The diverse and surprising scope of modern Turkish music sympathetically explored.
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Director: Fatih Akin

Writer: Fatih Akin

Starring: Alexander Hacke, Baba Zula, Orient Expressions, Duman, Replikas, Erkin Koray

Year: 2005

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: Germany/Turkey


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