A South American composer travels to India to search for the truth behind a poetic vision, written to him by a female painter and his mysterious journey to discover the source of his music inspiration.
Woodwind is a deep journey of a doubter, a composer who rather believe in his own madness than the existence of the extraordinary. Ironically, his is a faithful path, following his feelings and realizing the meaning of how they connect to his 'other half'. The composer is inspired by the role of his mother and the eternal 'Mother Nature' when the artist turns to his roots, becoming an instrument to channel the power of sound. From South America he first tries to explain to his Swiss girlfriend that he received an email from a woman who poetically described his movements in the woods that same day. Searching for the truth, he has to travel across the world to meet this mysterious painter at one tree in the middle of an Indian jungle to understand the meaning of the vision. From the waters of one of the oldest living cities to the Himalaya mountains, he is haunted by her memories and learns to tune into his own voice in music, setting him on a path of self-discovery, artistic ...
Coming from Durban to the film festival in Cape Town, I was curious to catch this Indian film made by a fellow South African. Woodwind isn't a film about Indians. It's a film about foreigners who go to India and the impact Indian culture has on their perceptions. When I see films about foreigners, like the British or Americans in India, they often fall into the trap of the Oriental cliché. They go to India and learn the usual type of Eastern mysticism and these are always created in a weak Hollywood fused with Bollywood style.
Woodwind doesn't fall into that trap. In fact it's not even totally set that the inspired philosophy is exactly Indian, it belongs to much of Eastern wisdom, that could be all of Indian, Chinese, Japanese and other ancient philosophy in this region. This is why the final act of the film is fitting where Bonifaz is seemingly no longer in an Indian region, and from the mountain area, where the clothing and flag details, reveals that he could be closer to Nepal or Tibet.
The location of Varanasi gives Woodwind a strong Indian flavour and I've read that this is because Benares (the old name for the city) is one of the oldest existing cities in civilization. There's also other places along the Himalayas that we see, which could've been stuck in time for a few centuries and keeps alive this feeling that we are experiencing a very old culture.
I mostly enjoyed how this film captured this reality. I felt as if I was there in India. While realistic, these scenes maintained the high quality of a fiction film with breathtaking cinematography. The movie moves up a gear when the character Bonifaz travel from South America to India. The South American scenes contrast very well with India and were also done very well, but I was mostly fascinated to watch this movie for India and fortunately we are taken there after only about a 15 minute intro.
The introduction in Bonifaz's home country is to highlight the musician having given up on the music from where he is coming from. Most of all, Woodwind is a critic of the Western approach to art (using music as the prime example) and goes as far as hinting that European art has failed as a medium to transform humanity. Then it contrasts that to the Eastern approach and we notice what its like for Bonifaz to follow this new, humble path as an artist that isn't directed by the ego of an artist that desires halls of fame.
What I like is that Bonifaz doesn't walks this new way in a clichéd manner. He still retains much of his own style and in his new music he creates a fusion of Asian and Western music. He doesn't play the santoor like an Indian or Persian, but does so in a way that reflects himself.
So, I found the variety in the soundtrack to be very interesting with the Indian Classical Music, some great European classicals and also then the new music created by Bonifaz.
All in all, I think Woodwind offers a new perspective not just from cinema but also honours the value of Indian and Asian culture and art to the world. For once it was great to see an Indian film that doesn't measure its value by using Hollywood as the ideal, and so the style of the film complements the message and experience of Bonifaz.
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