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Yo-Yo Ma documentary in the works

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Morgan Neville has produced and directed documentaries about everyone from Burt Bacharach and Ray Charles to Johnny Cash and Pearl Jam. His latest film, “Twenty Feet From Stardom,” about backup singers, will screen at next month’s Independent Film Festival Boston. (Featuring the likes of Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, and Tata Vega, “Twenty Feet From Stardom” was well received at this winter’s Sundance Film Festival, and was the first film sold.) But Neville is already on to his next project, and it sounds promising. He’s directing a documentary about celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble. “It’s still kind of taking shape,” Neville told us this week during a visit to Boston. “I’m getting into the ideas behind the Silk Road Ensemble — exploring the ideas of how music can build bridges where politics can’t. I’m looking at it in a very grassroots kind of way, and shooting on various continents.” (Created by Ma, the Silk Road Ensemble promotes collaboration among artists and institutions, encouraging multicultural artistic exchange.) As compelling as the ideas are, Neville said the star will be the virtuoso cellist. “Oh, big time,” said Neville. “Within 15 minutes of meeting him, I was willing to follow him anywhere. He’s so incredibly humble and disarming and funny.” Neville recalled leaving one of their first meetings to discuss the project. “He said, ‘Let me walk you out to the cab’ and then he gave me a hug in the rain,” said Neville. “I got in the cab and it took me a minute to get organized. When we finally drove away, he was still standing in rain waving. That is him, genuinely.”

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