SPAIN, MEXICO, PORTUGAL, AND SENEGAL / 2016 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUTITLES / 72 MIN
Flamenco is synonymous with Spanish culture. Yet, since its inception, theorists have sidelined the fundamental contribution of Afro-Andalusians to this art form.
Commercial exploitation of the American colonies brought hundreds of Africans to Spain to be sold as slaves, forming a population which, over time, managed to gain space in a society wrought with racial prejudices. Music and dance were a fundamental part of their expression and the most important affirmation of their identity. As the black population began to disappear from Spain in the late 19th century, so too did their contribution to this extraordinary art form. In Gurumbe: Afro-Andalusian Memories, their story is finally told.
"There are a number of musical performances in Gurumbe, but the tone of the film is surprisingly measured, authoritative, and at times something close to academic. As a result, it is highly credible and convincing." - j.b. spins Read Full Review HERE
In the midst of the Cold War, ten young promising musicians from Mali are sent to Cuba to study music and strengthen cultural links between the two socialist countries. Combining Malian and Afro-Cuban influences, they develop a revolutionary new sound and become the iconic ensemble ‘Las Maravillas de Mali’. New Year’s Eve 2000. Richard Minier, a French music producer meets a former member of the band in Bamako and decides to bring the band back together.
Directed by Edouard Salier and Richard Minier | 2020 | 81min |France, Cuba, Mali | Documentary | Spanish, French with English subtitles
SOUTH AFRICA AND GERMANY / 2011 / ENGLISH / 90 MIN
Miriam Makeba was one of the first African musicians who won international stardom and whose music was always anchored in her traditional South African roots. Miriam Makeba was forced into exile in 1959.
She sang for John F. Kennedy, performed with Harry Belafonte and Nina Simone, was married to Hugh Masekela and also Stokely Carmichael.
Her life was tumultuous. She always stood for truth and justice. She fought for the oppressed most importantly for black Africans, as a campaigner against apartheid. She died November 2008 after a concert in Italy.
Mika Kaurismäki's documentary, traces fifty years of her music and her performing life. Through rare archive footage of her performances and through interviews with her contemporaries we discover the remarkable journey of Miriam Makeba.
DIRECTOR AND CAST
Director: Mika Kaurismäki
Starring: Hugh Masekela
Starring: Angélique Kidjo
Starring: Harry Belafonte
DIRECTED BY NTANDAZO "DIDI" GCINGCA
SOUTH AFRICA / 1999 / ENGLISH / 17 MIN
Aces is the story of a young man who fights against the battering of his mother by his drunken father. The situation escalates until Ace desperately stabs his father to death, and is sent to jail for a period of 15 years. Nine years later he is out on parole. He kills again within a day's time of his release.
Music Pictures: New Orleans gives us legacy portraits and a rare backstage access into the lives and craft of four New Orleans music legends: Irma Thomas, Little Freddie King, Ellis Marsalis, and The Tremé Brass Band. Now in their 80s, these local masters continue their practice, for the love of the music, in the city that made them who they are.
Thomas, a Grammy-winning vocalist known as “The Soul Queen of New Orleans,” has recorded cult classics with James Brown, Allen Toussaint and Swamp Dogg. But she never enjoyed the same degree of international fame of her contemporaries like Aretha Franklin. Jones is the founder of the world renowned Tremé Brass Band and a fixture in the New Orleans jazz community. King is one of the last original bluesmen who at the age of 81 still performs live. Marsalis -father of internationally acclaimed musician, composer and bandleader Wynton Marsalis - is the patriarch of the famed jazz family who helped found the modern jazz scene in the 1950s.
Music Pictures: New Orleans follows these four artists one by one as they rehearse, perform and talk about their lives as it celebrates 100 years of New Orleans musical history with rare historical footage and testimonies.
Directed by Ben Chace, 2022, USA, 72 Min, Documentary, English
"Music Pictures: New Orleans is a pleasantly entertaining, early 2020s snapshot of four influential artists in blues and jazz." - Culture Mix
"Sometimes if you’re tired of documentaries that try to push a one-sided political message, a musical documentary can fix that. The documentary Music Pictures: New Orleans is an insightful documentary of a town with a century of a music legacy." ~ Jon The Blogcentric.org
" Music Pictures: New Orleans is a great documentary showcasing musicians, both individuals and groups, and how their sound has an impact not only on the sounds of New Orleans but on musical genres as a whole. It’s as much about its past legacy as it is about its present and future." ~ Jon The Blogcentric.org
A charming animation for the entire family, this African fable tells the story of Minga, an orphaned girl living with her stepmother MamiKaba and her stepsister Abena. One day, when she washes the dishes in the river, she accidentally brakes a spoon. A furious MamiKaba chases her away from the house, asking her to find the only identical spoon hidden by her late mother. An adventurous journey then begins for Minga in the forest.
Minga and the Broken Spoon is the first feature-length animated film entirely conceived and produced in Cameroon and is loosely based on “The Broken Spoon,” the famous African tale. The film is a vibrant tribute to Cameroon’s rich cultural diversity, while being a source of entertainment for the young and old alike.
By Claye Edou, Cameroon , 2019, 80 mins, animation in English.
She was ahead of her time, a genius. During an era when Jazz was the nation's popular music, Mary Lou Williams was one of its greatest innovators. As both a pianist and composer, she was a font of daring and creativity who helped shape the sound of 20th century America. And like the dynamic, turbulent nation in which she lived, Williams seemed to redefine herself with every passing decade.
From child prodigy to "Boogie-Woogie Queen" to groundbreaking composer to mentoring some of the greatest musicians of all time, Mary Lou Williams never ceased to astound those who heard her play. But away from the piano, Williams was a woman in a "man's world," a black person in a "whites only" society, an ambitious artist who dared to be different, and who struggled against the imperatives of being a "star." Above all, she did not fit the (still) prevailing notions of where genius comes from or what it looks like. Time and again, she pushed back against a world that said, "You can't" and said, "I can." It nearly cost her everything.
JOSEPHINE BAKER: BLACK DIVA IN A WHITE MAN'S WORLD
DIRECTED BYANNETTE VON WANGENHEIM
GERMANY, U.S. AND FRANCE / 2006 / ENGLISH, GERMAN, AND FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 45 MIN
A tender, revealing documentary about one of the most famous and popular performing artists of the 20th century. Her legendary banana belt dance created theatre history; her song “J’ai deux amours” became a classic, and her hymn.
The film focuses on her life and work from a perspective that analyses images of Black people in popular culture. It portrays the artist in the mirror of European colonial clichés and presents her as a resistance fighter, an ambulance driver during WWII, and an outspoken activist against racial discrimination involved in the worldwide Black Consciousness movement of the 20th century.
BRAZIL / 1988 / PORTUGUESE WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 100 MIN
The name ‘Natal da Portela’ is historically attached to the cultural identity of Brazil. Natal da Portela created the first escola de samba in Rio de Janeiro. The schools of samba are the soul of carnival in Brazil and major reservoirs of Afro-Brazilian culture. The film depicts the life of Natal da Portela as a young man from the favelas--the slums of the northern part of Rio de Janeiro--up to the creation of “la Portela”, the school of samba he created. The principal role played by Milton Goncalves, one of the major Black actors in Brazil, gives the story an authentic flavor rarely seen in films portraying the contemporary life of Black people in Brazil. This is a film filled with joy, music and laughter. “Natal da Portela” is also a film that narrates the story of contemporary Brazil and the legacy of African people in that country. Several other major actors enrich the story, Zeze Mota well known for her role in “Quilombo” and the dean of Black Brazilian actors, the great Grande Otello much remembered for his major role in Rio Zona Norte and Macunaima just to mention a few titles.
AUSTRALIA / 2002 / ENGLISH, WARLPIRI AND ANMATYERE WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 98 MIN
RESTORED HD VERSION AVAILABLE
The year is 1922 and The Tracker (David Gulpilil, Walkabout, Rabbit-Proof Fence) has the job of pursuing The Fugitive - an aborigine who is suspected of murdering a white woman - as he leads three mounted policemen: The Fanatic, The Follower and also The Veteran across the outback.
The Tracker, a mysterious and enigmatic figure whose true character remains unknown, assists them in their quest. As they move deeper into the bush and further away from civilization, the toxic forces of paranoia and violence begin to escalate, stirring up questions of what is black and what is white and who is leading whom. Their journey becomes an acrimonious and murderous trek that shifts power from one man to another, challenged by the indigenous people they come across as well as each other.
FRANCE and ALGERIA / 1997 / FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 90 MIN
In a housing project located on the outskirts of Paris renamed "100% Arabica" by its inhabitants, African immigrants live side by side. The residents are united by their struggle for recognition in a society where immigrants are often regarded as second class citizens. In a world of exiles, poverty is the common denominator. Against this backdrop, director Zemmouri has brought together two of the biggest and most charismatic stars of the cross-cultural musical form known as Rai, Cheb Mami and Khaled, who play the leaders of a band called Rap Oriental. As the band of musicians starts to gain in popularity, the Imam of the local mosque (Mouss) tries to destroy them by stirring up racial and cultural tensions. However, no one can stop the infectious popularity of the songs in this story of music triumphing over bigotry and violence.
EGYPT / 2002 / ARABIC WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 14 MIN
Sami and his wife Sarah are packing to move to the USA where they intend to open a restaurant. Rania, Sarah's sister, goes to their house to take them to the airport, but some unexpected and unforeseeable events take place in the apartment: games of seduction, murder and dead bodies to be disposed of. A surrealist comedy by Ahmed Hassouna who belongs to a new group of young promising Egyptian filmmakers.
Lovers Rock, often dubbed 'romantic reggae' is a uniquely black British sound that developed in the late 70s and 80s against a backdrop of riots, racial tension and sound systems. Live performance, comedy sketches, dance, interviews and archive shed light on the music and the generation that embraced it. Lovers Rock allowed young people to experience intimacy and healing through dance- known as 'scrubbing'- at parties and clubs. This dance provided a coping mechanism for what was happening on the streets. Lovers Rock developed into a successful sound with national UK hits and was influential to British bands (Police, Culture Club, UB40) These influences underline the impact the music was making in bridging the multi-cultural gap that polarized the times. The film sheds light on a forgotten period of British music, social and political history.
TUNISIA / 1999 / ENGLISH AND ARABIC WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 52 MIN
In Tunisia, the history of stambali goes back to the arrival of the first Africans taken as slaves from Mali, Timbuktu specifically. Practicing their music and worship in the house of their masters, the enslaved and their musical traditions survive to this day.
Stambali is a religious ritual in Tunisia, a journey with the rhythm of the "gombri" and "chkackek," traces an individual and collective hypnosis, an annual tribute that the disciples of Sidi Saad pay to their master during an initiatory journey and rite of purification that lasts three days.
In "Stambali," the camera, video and film follow the rhythm of the possession, dances, and goes into a trance, in the cemetery, in an open space of grass, trees, dust and sand, in the eroticism that is released by this physical and spiritual representation.
CUBA/ 2008/ ENGLISH, FRENCH SUBTITLES/HISTORICAL DOCUMENTARY/ 52 MINS
The Black Mozart in Cuba is the latest act in the rehabilitation of the memory of this extraordinary human being. The film skillfully combines biographical information with performances of his works.
Born in Guadeloupe of a Senegalese enslaved woman and a French nobleman, Joseph Boulogne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), became one of the most remarkable figures of the 18th century. He influenced the music and political life of his time. He was a genius composer and conductor, a virtuoso violinist, the best fencer in Europe, as well as the first black general in the French army. For 200 years after his death his music was rarely heard, due in part to Napoleon’s efforts to erase his existence from history. Today, his music is being rediscovered and played by orchestras and music groups around the world. In this documentary, Cuba dedicates a week of cultural activities to his memory and welcomes Saint Georges as “a great hero of the Caribbean.”
PERU ND BELGIUM / 2003 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 54 MIN
Susana Baca is not only a champion in the performance and preservation of Afro-Peruvian heritage, but also an elegant singer whose shimmering voice sings of love, loss and life. Susana and her husband Ricardo Pereira have founded the Instituto Negrocontinuo “Black Continuum” in Lima, a spirited facility for the exploration, expression, and creation of Black Peruvian culture. While Baca has dedicated herself to researching and performing virtually all forms of Afro-Peruvian folklore, it is the lando that has become her trademark. This slow to mid-tempo, highly evocative mix of Spanish, Indigenous and African rhythms has become what the son is to Cuba, or the samba to Brazil--the lando is the sound of Black Peru.
URUGUAY / 1993 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 16 MIN
More than two hundred years ago, there was an influx into Uruguay of enslaved Africans whom, after being freed, continued to make up the poorest and most marginalized strata in society. Fernando Nunez, a black man, a musician, and a maker of drums, sees himself as the heir to "Candombe", an important social and cultural legacy from his enslaved forefathers. The official history and culture of Uruguay, on the other hand, which has never acknowledged this contribution to the degree which it deserves, continues to marginalize expressions of black culture. Fernando Nunez and his friends from the Barrio Sur back street quarter of Montevideo have decided to fight to keep these important cultural roots alive in the consciousness of the Uruguayan people.
LA ULTIMA RUMBA DE PAPA MONTERO (THE LAST RUMBA OF PAPA MONTERO)
LA ULTIMA RUMBA DE PAPA MONTERO (THE LAST RUMBA OF PAPA MONTERO)
DIRECTED BYOCTAVIO CORTAZAR
CUBA AND MARTINIQUE / 1992 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 52 MIN
A fascinating film on the rhythmic dance genre known as Rumba, La Ultima Rumba de Papa Montero dances around the life of Papa Montero, one of the famous rumberos of Cuba, assassinated during carnival. A discovery of Cuban traditions and every day life told through beautiful images, sensual music and dance. The use of Afro-Cuban mythology is the force behind the characters as orishas guide the characters' fate.
DIRECTOR AND CAST
Director: Nick Hughes
Starring: Eric Bridges Twahirwa
Starring: Cleophas Kabasita
Starring: Davis Kagenza
DVD Afro-Cuba: Yesterday and Today which also includes Sara Gomez: An Afro-Cuban Filmmaker.
SENEGAL, SWITZERLAND AND FRANCE / 2006 / ENGLISH AND FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 108 MIN
A musical road movie,Return to Goréefollows Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour's historical journey tracing the trail left by enslaved Africans and the jazz music they created. Youssou N'Dour's challenge is to bring back to Africa a jazz repertoire of his own songs to perform a concert in Gorée, the island that today symbolizes the slave trade and stands to honor its victims.
From Atlanta to New Orleans, from New York to Bordeaux and Luxembourg, the songs are transformed, immersed in jazz and gospel. Transcending cultural divisions and rehearsing with of some of the world's most exceptional musicians, Youssou N'Dour is preparing to return to Africa for the final concert...