Maryland Film Festival features foreign and local movies

Khoomei or Tuvan throat singing counts as an ancient vocal tradition originating in the remote Republic of Tuva, located in the center of Asia in Siberia and now part of the Russian Federation.

Considered to predate modern linguistics, Khoomei— pronounced “hoo-may”— involves what Baltimore-based film director Michael Faulkner said is a remarkable technique for singing two or more pitches simultaneously.

For his directorial debut, Faulkner spent four years filming Baltimore beatboxer and vocal percussionist Shodekeh, and the popular Tuvan group, The Alash Ensemble, whom he said are masters of Khoomei having toured the world and sharing their music with other cultures for many years.

The film, “SHU-DE!”which means “Let’s Go” or “Giddy up”— is one of 120-feature length and short films of all genres that will be showcased at the 18th annual Maryland Film Festival, scheduled from May 4 to May 8, 2016 at various locations in Baltimore’s Station North Arts and Entertainment District.

“Alash and Shodekeh met during a 2011 tour, which brought the Tuvans to Baltimore for the first time and sparked a musical journey that’s still developing to this day,” Faulkner said. “Alash, impressed with the way Shodekeh’s vocal feats meshed with their own unique vocal tradition, invited him to join them in Kyzyl, Tuva as one of a few guest musicians, chosen from around the world, to participate in the 50th birthday celebration and international Xoomei festival, in honor of the legendary Tuvan throat singer, Kongar-ool Ondar.”

With just a small knapsack, Shodekeh arrived in Tuva to study their music and culture, while sharing his own vocal artistry, Faulkner said.

During the trip he participated in a series of events, created music with Kongar-ool Ondar, Alash and the Tuvan National Orchestra, and he competed in an international throat singing contest, and even took part in Kuresh, the Tuvan sport of wrestling.

Documenting it all on film was Faulkner, who said “SHU-DE!” is a sensory experience of music and landscape that “takes the viewer through the vastness of Tuva and that of the human voice, revealing the sounds that unfold with collaboration.”

“It took four years to finish this film and I’m hoping that the audience at the festival greets it well and the theater is packed,” said Faulkner whose credits include two John Waters directed movies and three seasons with the HBO and Charm City sensation, “The Wire.”

The festival also features the Craig Atkinson directed “Do Not Resist,” the winner of the best documentary at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival which explores the flow of large quantities of military equipment and weaponry to local police forces as seen during protests in Ferguson and Baltimore.

The documentary probes a disturbing nationwide trend— one with high financial stakes and powerful interests at its core, festival officials said.

Also, Baltimore-born basketball legend Carmelo Anthony has an entry in this year’s festival.

Anthony, an NBA All-Star with the New York Knicks who grew up in Baltimore, executive produced “The Legend of Swee’ Pea,” a film about New York City playground legend Lloyd Daniels and his struggles with addiction as he made a career in pro basketball.

As always is the case, festival officials have invited a figure from outside the world of film to select and host a screen,” said Dan Wiznitzer, who works as the public relations rep for the festival. “This year, DeRay McKesson has been selected for Boaz Yakin’s 1994 film, “Fresh,” with Samuel L. Jackson,” Wiznitzer said.

The official guide for the festival and ticket information can be found at www.md-filmfest.com.