Screaming Men | 2003
Conductor Petri Sirviö leads one of the most peculiar stage acts in the world: the Screaming Men Choir, a sensational collection of Finnish men who specialize in bellowing various national anthems at the top of their lungs (their repertoire also includes folk songs, poems, and bits of the Geneva Convention). Although director Mika Ronkainen's portrait of Sirviö and his group captures a man possessed of the irony and awareness necessary to present this kind of performance to a world that is hardly ready for it, the film is also an act of seduction. Initially startling, then humorous and intriguing, Screaming Men eventually leads you to comprehend Sirviö's music and what it says about expression, politics, anger, the human voice and ear, and the conventions of high art and performance. Screaming Men is also a film about a man with an uncompromising artistic vision. When told his choir is forbidden to perform "La Marseillaise" at their Parisian concert because of an archaic French law barring alterations to the national anthem, Sirviö risks a diplomatic altercation and does it anyway, with positive results. Smart, good-natured, and beautifully crafted, Screaming Men is one of the more unusual films you are likely to see this year.