Broad Green Pictures has acquired U.S. distribution rights to “Song of Lahore,” a documentary from Andy Schocken and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy about a group of Pakistani musicians traveling to the United States to play with Wynton Marsalis’ band at Lincoln Center.
The company plans to begin a one-week Oscar-qualifying run in Los Angeles and New York on Nov. 13, followed by a likely rollout in January 2016.
“Song of Lahore” premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, where TheWrap wrote, “[T]he film about Pakistani music tells a fascinating story and mixes glorious artistry with a background that has real resonance in a world in which fundamentalist Islam is on the march … The film … is a rich and affectionate portrait of a handful of men who refuse to let their culture die in the face of official repression and public indifference.”
The town of Lahore was once a center of musical culture, known for the film scores recorded in its studios. But music was banned under Sharia law after a 1977 coup, and the music that had been passed down for generations began to die out.
After restrictions eased, the younger generation of Pakistanis was no longer interested in traditional music — so in an attempt to reach a Western audience, one group began to play their versions of American jazz classics like Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five.”
When that recording became a sensation after being featured on BBC One, Marsalis invited the musicians to perform as part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center program, leading to a serious collision of cultures and a joyous, spirited concert captured in the film.
Obaid-Chinoy, who won an Academy Award for her documentary short “Saving Face,” and Schocken produced the film along with executive producers Dan Cogan, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Natalie Massenet, Guy Oseary, Vijay Vaidyanathan and David L. Waechter.
“We wanted to bring to life a different kind of story about Pakistan – a story about its people, not its politics,” said Obaid-Chinoy and Schocken. “Through this incredible journey, we have seen how music has the ability to bring people together across cultural divides.”
Broad Green principals are now at the Toronto International Film Festival in search of more films to fill what they envision as a robust slate of both specialty films and wider releases.