7.7/10
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The Ballad of Bering Strait (2003)

"The Ballad of Bering Strait" is a cinema-verite film following seven Russian teenagers who have come to America to become country music stars. Principle photography began in July 1999 when... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Alexei Arzamastsev ...
Bering Strait - Drums (as Alexander Arzamastsev)
Natasha Borzilova ...
Bering Strait - Lead Vocals
Andrei Missikhin ...
Bering Strait - Bass (as Andrei Misikhin)
Sergei 'Spooky' Olkhovsky ...
Bering Strait - Bass
...
Bering Strait - Steel Guitar (as Alexander 'Sasha' Ostrovsky)
Sergei Pasov ...
Bering Strait - Fiddle (as Sergei Passov)
Lidia Salnikova ...
Bering Strait - Keyboard (as Lydia Salnikova)
Ilya Toshinsky ...
Bering Strait - Banjo
Mike Kinnamon ...
Personal Manager
Brent Maher ...
Record Producer
Tim DuBois ...
President, Arista-Nashville
Ray Johnson ...
Art Dealer
Valery Salnikov ...
Lydia's Father
Phil O'Donnell
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Storyline

"The Ballad of Bering Strait" is a cinema-verite film following seven Russian teenagers who have come to America to become country music stars. Principle photography began in July 1999 when the band, Bering Strait, entered the United States and began recording their first album in Nashville. The film documents the band responding to the twists and turns of the recording industry, rehearsing for their tour, preparing for their debut concert at the Grand Ole Opry, charting the course for their career with their managers, and living every-day life on the farm where they reside in rural Tennessee. The crew traveled with the band to their homes in Obninsk, Russia and to their music conservatories in Moscow, documenting how these two girls and five boys became so adept at playing American country music. The film culminates with the band's arrival on the U.S. stage at Wolf Trap National Park. "The Ballad of Bering Strait" is a two and a half year epic that follows Bering Strait's amazing ... Written by Emerging Pictures web-site

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Genres:

Documentary | Music

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Release Date:

19 February 2003 (USA)  »

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1.78 : 1
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User Reviews

Wished for more depth and background
14 April 2007 | by (Montana, USA) – See all my reviews

The documentary is not bad, but I wish it had more on the individual band members and their Russian background. What we get are the trials and tribulations of trying to record a country music album during upheavals in the country music industry with companies and recording contracts. For much of what happens this could be almost any band, American or non-American.

I had the feeling the documentary was made partly as a promotional device to advertise the band as they were stuck in a kind of limbo during much of the movie. That would explain the lack of film prior to their arrival in the U.S. What little was filmed in Russia appeared to be when band members went back to visit family.

This is not to say the band members are not good, they are. Their music mostly sounds like top 40 country music of the time - the early part of this decade. I enjoyed the one song they played in concert that showcased their Russian background.

I would have liked more on the individual band members. Probably part of this lack of depth is that these are teenagers after all. Add in that they are non-US people and not so used to self analysis and expressing their emotions to strangers. I don't think the filmmakers really ever got close to the band members.

There is such a thing as a "Russian soul" and a Russian characteristic of fatalism and accepting one's fate. I know as I have Russian ancestors. I saw a glimpse of that in several of the young men's comments after the fire and their frustration in not moving forward with their career. I would have like the filmmaker to spent more time on showing how being Russian affected the kids outlook and decisions, at least more so than being homesick and having to contend with Visa restrictions on work.

Unfortunately it appears the documentary ends before Bering Strait's success and eventual breakup. Wikipedia has some interesting info on the band and what the members are up to now. A positive thing about this documentary is that it got me interested in the band and their fate and I went searching for more info.


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