Directed by #KondorShekari
Film review by Nathanial Eker
Diving into another culture through the medium of documentary is often as educational as it is enjoyable. The Song of Galesh is a film that immerses itself in its titular Iranian village with an initially fascinating panache, only to become dull and ill-paced thanks to a lack of focus and copious technical hiccups.
The Song of Galesh boldly heads straight into the action with only a few scripted lines explaining where we are and what we're watching. This sounds exciting, but the lack of a central figure to follow and overly-broad, overly-long examinations of the native culture soon spoils any initial elation. While watching a traditional potter make his goods is undoubtedly cool, the film's lack of narrative intent quickly becomes its Achilles heel. Some documentaries manage to remain engaging through stunning cinematography and captivating examinations of culture alone; The Song of Galesh regrettably isn't one of them.
Director Kondor Shekari (who also produces, writes, edits, and narrates) has obviously immersed themselves into this culture, likely capturing hours of raw footage that successfully transports the audience to the mountainous farms of Galesh. However, as soon as we start to get to know an individual, or witness an ancient custom in action, Shekari cuts away to the next scene, seemingly anxious to get on with things while in a 'worst of both worlds' situation, scenes fixated on the beautiful setting paradoxically hold for too long.
The film's obsession with using entire folk songs as its only musical accompaniment soon becomes monotonous, particularly in moments where the music simply doesn't gel with the tone of what the locals are saying. Most unforgivable, however, is the collection of amateurish filmmaking mistakes that regularly disturb the viewing experience. Sound crackles, translations are poor, and the sloppy fade cuts and awkward zooms - while not mistakes - fail to captivate or compel.
The Song of Galesh provides an intriguing look at a culture far-removed from our western world. Its natural mise-en-scene is well-captured, and the many traditions, songs, and day-to-day happenings of the villagers are undeniably interesting to examine as a fly on the wall. However, the film quickly devolves from a captivating documentary into a history lesson, without considered pace or the promise of conflict.
As an educational piece, it's well-worth a look to broaden your cultural horizons, providing you expect not an epic journey into the wilderness, but a begrudgingly attended school trip.