Oxford Virtual Film Festival.
Barda and his Army of Lovers bandmates Alexander Bard (the founder) and Dominika Peczynski are the first to gleefully admit they do not play instruments and never really even performed their own vocals. For them, the band is really about dramatic stagecraft, elaborate (and risqué) costumes, and fab hair and makeup. The latter was also Barda’s responsibility. For a while, the band was positioned as the natural successors to ABBA and they nearly reached that level of popularity in Continental Europe (but fell considerably shorter in the US and UK).
Raised in Sweden by his naturalized French-Algerian parents, Barda initially held conflicted attitudes towards his Jewish faith and heritage. However, an Israeli tour provided a new, positive context to relate to his Jewishness. He seemed like he was “home,” so he stayed.
Musically, Monk and Coltrane are more our style, but we still appreciate Barda and his comrade’s theatricality and their sly sense of humor. There is a lot of laughter in this documentary that will broaden its appeal beyond the band’s fan base. Yet, it also serves an important role educating viewers regarding the progressive freedom of Israeli society. Very highly recommended, Army of Lovers in the Holy Land screens (online) as part of the Oxford Virtual Film Festival (6/26-7/2).