Israeli bassist and producer Yossi Fine has always drawn on his European and Caribbean heritage in his music. As an adult, he discovered that his great grandmother was Indian. An invitation to an Indian music festival allows him to explore his newly discovered Indian roots through music.
Mandala Beats blends cool reggae rhythms with classic Indian beats to create an entertaining exploration of culture through music. Director Rebekah Reiko has created something that plays like an intellectual concert film. The music is fantastic and she lets that drive the film forward. However, what really elevates the film is the discussions of music, culture and identity that weave in and out of the musical performances.
In Yossi Fine, Reiko has a subject that understands and appreciates music at its core. This leads to technical musical discussions, that instead of dragging down the film, manage to elevate the music. The music is reason enough to see Mandala Beats, but through the words of Fine and other musicians it is given another layer of meaning.
Is Mandala Beats essential festival viewing?
Mandala Beats is as enjoyable as it is informative. I only wish it could be longer.