As the opening question of Dutch filmmaker Ramon Gvieling’s About Canto, which screened in competition for Best Documentary Film at IDFA last November, the query is one that spanned several films during those twelve days of documentary. In addition to the festival’s new program, IDFA PLAY, a competitive selection of music documentaries, a handful of docs in other sections lyrically considered the intuitive relationship between music and human emotions.

“Musicophilia” is a term used by neurologist Oliver Sacks to suggest the uplifting effects of music. It has also been used to describe an obsession with or spiritual connection to music. Most would believe that musicophilia applies to everyone in some way. Of course that is not entirely true, some consider music as merely background ambience while others are entirely unmoved and uninterested. Yet in the worlds of these film subjects, music has transcended its simplistic function to become something altogether godly.

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