The revolutionary power of music is the subject of Farid Eslam’s rollicking documentary, buoyed along by performances from some of the Arab world’s most exciting new performers. As part of guest curator Zeina Zahreddine’s program on new Arab cinema (read her essay here), Yallah! Underground provides an expansive look at musicians working actively to make change.
Zeid Hamdan, “The Godfather of Lebanese alternative music,” and founding member of Soapkills, as well as the music label Lebanese Underground, explains that writing and performing music in the midst of a country in tremendous upheaval provides a unique environment for making art. As if to hammer this point home, footage of concerts and musicians at work in the studio are set against images of bombardment and violent street protests. The intersection of art and politics gets personal when Hamdan is jailed for writing a song about General Suleiman. As the society tests its limits, artists and musicians push against the boundaries of tradition, culture, and religion, creating a call for freedom and peace that you can dance to. -DW
German-born documentarist Farid Eslam examines the ongoing Middle East revolutions and their aftermath through the eyes of young musicians — rockers, rappers, rebels and alternatives — in Yallah! Underground. Their refreshingly cool point of view bridges the gap with Western sensibilities and offers young audiences, in particular, a behind-the-scenes look at the sea changes taking place in social attitudes should send a drumbeat to the young Arab audiences it primarily targets.... -THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER