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The Independent Critic

Shodekeh, the Alash Ensemble, Kongar-ol Ondar, The Tuvan National Orchestra
Michael R. Faulkner
85 Mins.

 "Shu-De! (Let's Go!)" Screens at 2016 Indy Film Fest 
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One of the 2016 Indy Film Fest's more life affirming films, the documentary Shu-De! (Let's Go!) will most definitely please fans of musical docs such as the Playing for Change videos and doc. While the purpose here is different, the energy is very much the same as we follow Shodokeh, a Baltimore-based beatboxer and vocal percussionist who travels to Kyzyl, Tuva, in Siberia to participate in the 50th Birthday celebration and International Xoomei festival, in honor of the legendary Tuvan throat singer, Kongar-ol Ondar. Shodokeh, according to the film's website, "journeyed to Tuva to study their music and culture, while sharing his own vocal artistry. During the trip he participated in a series of events, created music with Kongar-ool Ondar, Alash and the Tuvan National Orchestra, competed in an international throat singing contest, and even took part in Kuresh (the Tuvan sport of wrestling)."

Shodokeh has an artistic vision of creating an "oasis of unity through musical collaboration," and has spent his life mastering new sounds and using them. To watch it come to life in Shu-De, is rather extraordinary and simple and beautiful.

The film is directed by Michael R. Faulkner, a Hollywood veteran who has worked on such films as Ladder 49, Rocket Science and John Waters' A Dirty Shame, is making his feature documentary debut with Shu-De, a filmmaking journey that reportedly began after Faulkner heard Shodokeh do a long drum roll in a Baltimore bar. It's hard to believe that Shu-De is the first D.P. feature for Trey Hudson, whose lensing captures both the universality of everything that is unfolding here and the intimacy of the relationships being formed.

Shu-De, which is actually Tuvan for "giddyup" or "let's go," is even more than simply a beautiful film to behold and an entertaining exploration of Shodokeh's remarkable vocal gifts. In fact, it's a remarkable look at musical history. According to the film's website, "Khoomei (hoo-may) or Tuvan throat singing, is an ancient vocal tradition originating in the remote Republic of Tuva. Considered to predate modern linguistics, Khoomei, involves a remarkable technique for singing two or more pitches simultaneously. The sounds are said to come from the land and harmonize with nature itself. The Alash Ensemble, featured in the film, are masters of this vocal art and have been touring the world sharing their music with other cultures for years.

Shu-De is, in most ways, a rather straightforward yet immensely entertaining and informative feature documentary. Shodokeh is a charismatic young man whose openness to life experiences and connecting with strangers feels particular powerful given the times in which we live. The film screens at the 2016 Indy Film Fest at the Indianapolis Museum of Art's DeBoest Lecture Hall on July 18th at 1:45 pm and on July 21st at 5:15 pm. For information on the film or tickets, visit the Indy Film Fest website.

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic