Synopsis by Mark Deming
While most Americans think of gospel music or church hymns when they discuss spiritual music, every faith and culture has different forms of music that reflect their relationship with God. Every year, thousands of musicians and music lovers from around the globe come to Morocco, a city known as an oasis of religious tolerance, for the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music, where artists of Muslim, Sufi, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, and other spiritual paths gather to express the joy of worship through music. Filmmaker Stephen Olsson brought a camera crew to the 2004 festival, and The Sound of the Soul: The Fez Festival of World Sacred Music offers an insider's look at this annual celebration of spirituality and art. Performers range from a Christian brass band from New York and Fado singers from Portugal to a chorus of female Berber singers from Africa and medieval ensembles from France, all of whom embrace the philosophy of an Afghan performer who says, "music is the sound of the soul." The Sound of the Soul: The Fez Festival of World Sacred Music was screened in competition at the 2005 Mill Valley Film Festival.