IMDb > The Ballad of Bering Strait (2003)

The Ballad of Bering Strait (2003) More at IMDbPro »

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"The Ballad of Bering Strait" is a cinema-verite film following seven Russian teenagers who have come to America to become country music stars... See more » | Add synopsis »
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Thoughtful, humanist documentary. See more (4 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)
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
Alexander Ostrovsky ... 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

Directed by
Nina Gilden Seavey 
 
Produced by
Kalindi Corens .... associate producer: Russia crew
Nobuo Isobe .... co-producer
Barry Rebo .... co-producer
Nina Gilden Seavey .... producer
 
Cinematography by
Erich Roland (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
Jeff Consiglio 
 
Production Management
Steven S. Nelson .... production manager: Nashville crew
Alexei Zubatch .... production manager: Russia crew
 
Sound Department
Jeff Blynder .... location sound
Brian Cunneff .... sound designer
Brian Cunneff .... sound mixer
Michael Figlio .... sound: Nashville crew (as Mike Figlio)
Thomas Morrison .... sound: Nashville crew (as Tom Morrison)
Scott Rhame .... sound designer
Scott Rhame .... sound mixer
Justin Rosensteel .... production engineer
Len Schmitz .... location sound
Tom Wentworth .... location sound
 
Visual Effects by
Andy Brill .... graphics artist
Mandy McMahan .... graphics artist (as Mandy McMahon)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Dennis Boni .... additional cinematography
Rich Confalone .... additional cinematography
Vance Holmes .... additional cinematography
Chris Li .... additional cinematography
Chris Maddaloni .... still photographer
Allen Moore .... additional cinematography
Tony Pemberton .... gaffer: Russia crew
Jason 'Freelance' Pierce .... gaffer: Nashville crew
 
Editorial Department
Dave Allen .... on-line editor
Greg Connors .... colorist (as Greg Conners)
Melani Douglass .... assistant editor
Susan T. Dyer .... post-production coordinator
Renee Fisher .... post-production assistant
Vince Forcier .... post-production executive
Jeanne Mayeux .... post-production assistant
Hans Roland .... post-production executive
Kurt Schneid .... assistant editor
Lisa Thompson .... post-production assistant
Justin Van Prooyen .... assistant editor
 
Other crew
Chris Borges .... production assistant
Chris Brown .... production assistant: Nashville crew
Ira Deutchman .... representative: producer
Vince Forcier .... production executive
Cole Gibbons .... production assistant: Nashville crew
Marina Golovchenko .... interpreter: Russia crew
Margaret Hayden .... production assistant
Maxim Ivashyn .... translator
Nancy Mantelli .... production assistant
Gwen Morgan .... production assistant
Mary Murphy .... intern
Hans Roland .... production executive
Peter Rollberg .... translator
Galina A. Savitskaia .... translator
John Schlosser .... production assistant
Milena Schwager .... translator
Andrew Shatalin .... translator
Courtenay Singer .... production assistant
Kiev Tetra .... production assistant
Deborah Wagnon .... legal counsel
Jonathan West .... production assistant
 
Thanks
Fletcher Foster .... special thanks
Fritz Roland .... special thanks
 
Crew believed to be complete


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Additional Details

Runtime:
98 min
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1.78 : 1 See more »
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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful.
Thoughtful, humanist documentary., 21 February 2004
Author: insightstraight from The wilds of New Mexico

It sounds like the perfect high-concept Hollywood plotline: eager, appealing, talented Russian teenagers dream of making it big in music -- but their chosen genre is American-style bluegrass and country. They learn their chops in Russia, then travel to the US and play at the Grand Ole Opry, to great acclaim and instant fame, "rubles to riches".

Were life a movie, that's the way it would work. But this movie is a life, many lives in fact, and things aren't so simple...

The band "Bering Strait" works for years to attain their dream of recording at Nashville, strive to stand out and be thought of as more than a novelty act ("Hey look -- a Russian playin' a banjo!"), try to be patient in the face of obstacles. Basically, just like any band anywhere. And ultimately that is what this documentary is about -- strip away the Russian accents, and these kids are facing the same problem aspiring bands anywhere have had. They have to balance schooling with career, deal with parents who love them but really wish they had chosen a more stable profession, agonize over letting a band member go. These are the universals of the music world.

Watching this film makes one wonder how *any* group makes it in music. As a recording exec points out, there are "hundreds of thousands" of talented musicians waiting for a chance, and the odds are very poor for them getting it... Even Bering Strait, with their hook of being foreign, have to weather years of promises and the storms of the recording industry.

Though the stress *is* a bit more exaggerated for them -- due to visa restrictions they cannot do any work in the U.S. other than music, not even flipping burgers, so periods where they are not working are especially frustrating. They feel helpless, powerless, isolated and homesick. (In an ironic twist on stereotypes, the urbanite Russian teenagers end up spending most of their time in America on a farm.) Their manager, producer, etc. are shown as folks who genuinely care for them, and in fact are putting themselves at risk for the band's sake, but the band themselves feel tossed about by fate.

Ironically, the music the band aspires to sounds (to this non-country-tuned ear) indistinguishable from any other top 40 country songs. The band is talented, the singers have lovely voices, but they seem to be willing to trade distinctiveness for success. Only when they perform a traditional Russian piece in a bluegrass arrangement do they stand out and show some pizazz.

(The film shows American reactions to their music: "Did they sound Russian?" Amusingly, one woman thinks they sound "too Yankee". And watching good ol' boys in a Nashville bar trying to pronounce Russian names is alone worth seeing the film.)

Watching this film, one is left with a sense of the basic decency of people everywhere. Nationalities are set aside as the common thread of human experience works through. (You don't have to speak Russian to understand the concern on the faces of the kids' parents as they contemplate their futures.) Even the sometimes harsh recording business is seen as being peopled with good folk who have troubles of their own. And the kids, though sometimes anxious and depressed, never descend into sullen attitude. (Though whether this is a product of their Russian background or the ambience of country music is unclear -- how would a rock band have fared, under the same circumstances?) And even everyday southern Americans, where the stereotype might suggest otherwise, are depicted as being open-minded to the idea of Russians playing country music.

Anyone who dreams of making it in music should see this film, as should anyone who knows them.

Most of the film is in English, with occasional subtitles.

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