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Every making-of-the-band film is in some way a loss-of-innocence story, but it’s not just youthful illusions that get shed in The Ballad of Bering Strait, which centers on a bunch of banjo-pickers whose accents are more liquid than twang. When we meet the seven kids of Bering Strait, they’re struggling to communicate their passion for bluegrass to the skeptical classical-music faculty at their Russian conservatory; by the time local filmmaker Nina Gilden Seavey has tracked them to the United States and through four years of Nashville deals and music-market downturns, they’ve ditched bluegrass tradition to become little more than another smooth country-pop product—less Moscow or moonshine than Music Row. Seavey, who runs the documentary-film program at George Washington University, has an eye and an ear for telling details, and she covers a whole lot of ground in this docupic: Her cameras explore as far east as Obninsk, where the band members became child stars under the too-driven direction of a country-obsessed music teacher, and as far south as a Tennessee honky-tonk, whose patrons’ cud-chewing cluelessness bodes ill for the group’s commercial prospects. Perhaps to emphasize the drama of its makin’-it-Stateside story, Ballad shorthands the group’s early success at home—at one point, apparently, the TV-star kids earned more than their scientist parents—but at least it doesn’t overdo the pathos of their darkest days. (In true country-song style, they weathered both near-bankruptcy and an apartment fire that consumed everything but their instruments.) The film’s biggest weakness is the way it glosses over the departure of the band’s longtime bassist, who gets the boot midway through without much explanation. And Bering Strait’s worst flaw, by the time it gets big enough to open for Trisha Yearwood at Wolf Trap, is how much like everybody else it’s begun to sound. —Trey Graham