Sultans Of String will shine a light on the plight of refugees with their award-winning documentary The Refuge Project Visual Album, screening at the 18th annual Canadian Folk Music Awards in Vancouver.
Mixed in full Dolby Atmos, this ambitious, diverse, inclusive, and passionately political film puts this world-music group face to face with a VIP roster of global music ambassadors — some of whom are recent immigrants and refugees to Canada and the U.S. — as well as essential Indigenous voices. All are masters of global music that communicate with each other through the universal language of music.
Addressing the struggles of life on Mother Earth has always inspired this band. In Sultans Of String: The Refuge Project Visual Album, they bring their unique brand of musical synergy and collaboration to bear on discussion and songs that speak to the challenges facing the world’s displaced peoples — their stories, their songs, their persistence and their humanity Joined by an international cast, the Juno-nominated band immerse themselves in the plight of the international refugee, and the humanitarian response that should greet everyone in search of a home.
The 90-minute screening on April 1 will be followed by a Q&A with bandleader and Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient Chris McKhool and co-producer John “Beetle” Bailey, hosted by Michael Tymchuk.
McKhool (whose paternal grandfather was from Lebanon) explains, “The larger Refuge Project is centred around the positive contributions of refugees and new immigrants to Canada and the United States. We are bringing in special guests that are newcomers to this land, as well as global talents that have been ambassadors for peace. We wish to celebrate the successes of those who make the journey here and bring their extraordinary talents with them, in this case, music. Each one of us has a remarkable story to tell, and we are excited to share the beauty of these collaborations with you.”
The Refuge Project features stellar performances by Ahmed Moneka and Imad Al Taha, both refugees from Iraq; Syrian refugee Leen Hamo; Donné Roberts from Madagascar with partner Yukiko Tsutsui from Japan; Algeria’s Fethi Nadjem; Colombian refugee Juan Carlos Medrano; Iran’s Padideh Ahrarnejad; Romani Nyckelharpa player Saskia Tomkins; tabla player Ravi Naimpally from India; sitar player Anwar Khurshid from Pakistan; string ensemble Gundem Yayli Grubu from Istanbul; Indigenous performers Duke Redbird and Twin Flames, and many, many more.
“The true inspiration behind these albums and film is the incredible artists we get to collaborate with,” says McKhool. “We learn so much from these diverse voices, and each one of them is so personally inspiring. As Ahmed Moneka, an artist and refugee from Iraq says, ‘Love is the main reason for a great future.’ We are so privileged to be able to collaborate with so many incredible voices on this project.”
The film is receiving industry recognition on the Film Festival circuit including the Cannes World Film Festival, Vancouver Independent Film Festival, Best Istanbul Film Festival, Paris Movie Festival, Montreal Independent, Hamburg Indie, Boston Independent, and Folk in Film.
The film screens on Saturday, April 1, at 3 p.m, at Mel Lehan Hall, St James Community Square, 214 W 10th Ave. in Vancouver. Admission is free for CFMA attendees/ticket holders, or $12 for the public.
Watch the trailer for The Refuge Project Visual Album above, and connect with Sultans of String at their website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.