Compiled by David Henderson (St. Lawrence University)
Along with recent releases, this issue includes a number of films reviewed
in recent issues of the journal that were not previously noted in "Current
Films and Videos.”
Acknowledgements: St. Lawrence University Libraries for financial and technical
Africa | Americas | Asia
and Oceania | Distributor Information
Keep the Dance Alive. 2007. Produced and directed by Rina Sherman
(Namibia/Angola/France). Distributed by Insight Media. DVD, 75 min. Explores
the music, dance, and spirit possession practices of the Ovahimba people
of Namibia and Angola.
War and Dance. 2008 (2006). Directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix
Fine (Uganda/USA). Distributed by Image Entertainment. DVD, 107 min. Feature-length
documentary about three children from the Patongo refugee camp in northern
Uganda competing in a music festival in Kampala.
Awake My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp. 2007. Directed by
Matt and Erica Hinton (USA). Distributed by Awake Productions/Digital Maps.
DVD, 75 mins. Using footage collected over seven years, this documentary
explores the history, music, and traditions of Sacred Harp singing. (Reviewed
in Ethnomusicology 52/2:337-339).
Be Here to Love Me. 2005. Directed by Margaret Brown (USA). Distributed
by the Cinema Guild, Inc. DVD and VHS, 100 min. Combines emotional interviews
with friends and family of Townes Van Zandt with never-before-seen footage
of the Texas singer-songwriter. The film features appearances by Willie
Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Kris Kristofferson, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Guy
Clark, Steve Shelley, and more.
Breakin’ In: The Making of a Hip Hop Dancer. 2005. Directed
by Elizabeth St. Philip (USA). Distributed by Third World Newsreel. DVD
and VHS, 45 min. The images are everywhere: young black women shaking their
assets in music videos featuring the biggest names in hip-hop. The dancers
appear to be pretty props, gyrating to songs with misogynistic lyrics sung
by mostly male rappers—images that appear to be exploitative and stereotypical.
Yet auditions are highly sought after. This documentary follows three young
women competing for roles in music videos. What drives these women to risk
everything for a chance at fame? What role do these images play in shaping
young women’s goals and identities? Through their personal accounts,
we see how this world has impacted their personal values, career ambitions
and concepts of beauty and self-image.
El Charango. 2006. Directed by Jim Virga and Tula Goenka (Bolivia).
Distributed by Third World Newsreel. DVD, 22 min. This short documentary
is about a little instrument, a large silver mine and the highest city in
the world. Cerro Rico in Potosi, Bolivia, was discovered by Spanish conquistadors
in 1545, who enslaved the local indigenous people. It is said that eight
million people, including African slaves, died in the mines of this mountain
while providing Spain with immense wealth. The Spanish culture spread into
Potosi, and the local people became aware of something they had never seen
or heard before: a stringed instrument. Forbidden from ever playing the
Spanish guitar, the miners copied it and created the charango. The story
of the charango symbolizes the larger struggle for human rights and a quest
to keep traditional culture alive among indigenous people. In Spanish with
The Culture of Palo. 2005. Produced and directed by Giovanni Savino
(Dominican Republic/USA). Distributed by EarthCDs. DVD, 84 min. Collection
of outtakes from the film Misterios (see below), assembled with
the intent to preserve at least a small part of Palo music and oral traditions
from the Dominican Republic. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Fet Gede in Little Haiti. 2006. Recorded by Luke Wassermann (USA).
Distributed by EarthCDs. Two DVDs, 140 min. Three nights of drumming and
dancing at the vodou festival for the sacred dead in Miami’s Little
Haiti in November 2005. In English and Creole with English subtitles.
Kusisqa Waqashayku: From Grief and Joy We Sing. 2008. Produced,
directed, and written by Holly Wissler (Peru/USA). Distributed by the Mountain
Fund. DVD, 53 min. Documentary filmed and edited entirely in Q’eros
and Cusco, Perú. Through the experience of Victor Flores, a young
Q’eros man who was suddenly widowed at age nineteen, we come to know
how the Q’eros use their ritual music for deep expression of grief,
learn about the annual cycle of musical rituals, and see the process and
challenges of adaptation of an indigenous people into modern society. Through
Agustín Machacca and Juliana Apasa of the older generation, we learn
about Q’eros’ history through a body of songs that are no longer
sung, yet are being "remembered” by them. In English, Spanish,
Misterios. 2005. Produced and directed by Giovanni Savino (Dominican
Republic/Haiti/USA). Distributed by EarthCDs. DVD, 55 min. Footage of vodou
rituals and ceremonies as well as interviews with vodou practitioners, described
by ethnomusicologist, composer, and reed player Paul Austerlitz as "a
stunning treat for the eyes and ears.” In Spanish with English subtitles.
¡Nosotros, la música!/We Are the Music! The Golden Age
of Cuban Music. 2008 (1964). Directed by Rogelio París (Cuba).
Distributed by First Run Features. DVD, 66 min. A panorama of Cuban music
and dance made at ICAIC in the 1960s, featuring performances by Bola de
Nieve, Quinteto Instrumental de Musica Moderna, Elena Bourke, and others.
In Spanish with English subtitles.
The Order of Myths. 2008. Directed by Margaret Brown (USA). Distributed
by the Cinema Guild, Inc. DVD and VHS, 80 min. The first Mardi Gras in America
was celebrated in Mobile, Alabama in 1703. In 2007, it is still racially
segregated. Filmmaker Margaret Brown, herself a daughter of Mobile, escorts
the viewer into the parallel hearts of the city’s two carnivals to
explore the complex contours of this hallowed tradition and the elusive
forces that keep it organized along enduring color lines.
Play Jankunú Play: The Garifuna Wanaragua Ritual of Belize.
2006. Produced and directed by Oliver N. Greene, Jr. (USA). Distributed
by Documentary Educational Resources. DVD and VHS, 45 mins. Descriptions
of the three processions and dance styles that make up this masked Christmas
ritual are interspersed with interviews by Garifuna singers, drummers, dancers,
cultural advocates, and scholars. (Reviewed in Ethnomusicology
Record Store. 2008. Produced and directed by Matthew Durington
(USA). Distributed by Berkeley Media LLC. DVD and VHS, 36 min. This documentary,
shot over a three-year period, explores the various urban subcultures at
an independent record store in Philadelphia, focusing on the store’s
owners, employees, and customers.
Shakin’ All Over: A History of Canadian Rock and Roll. 2005.
Directed by Gary McGroarty (Canada). Distributed by Insight Media. DVD,
90 min. Examines Canadian music during the 1960s, and features musicians
such as Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot, Bruce Cockburn, Sylvia Tyson, Robbie
Robertson, and the Barenaked Ladies.
She Rhymes like a Girl. 2005. Directed by J. T. Takagi (USA).
Distributed by Third World Newsreel. DVD and VHS, 7 min. Toni Blackman and
the FreeStyle Union are challenging the male dominated world of hip hop
and empowering women to speak their minds in freestyle workshops. This music
video/documentary hopes to promote a movement of female MCs.
Two Dollar Dance. 2006. Produced and directed by Yolanda Pividal
(USA). Distributed by Third World Newsreel. DVD, 17 min. Every weekend,
hundreds of Latino immigrants pack the dance clubs of Jackson Heights, in
Queens, New York City. There, they meet the "two-dollars ballerinas,”
women who will be their dance floor partners for two dollars a song. This
film unveils the soul of these clubs through Victor, a patron, and Liz,
one of the ballerinas. Through their eyes, this film dives into the stories
of men and women who leave their families and countries behind to work in
the United States. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Wetlands Preserved: The Story of an Activist Nightclub. 2008.
Written and directed by Dean Budnick (USA). Distributed by First Run Features.
DVD, 97 min. Tracks the history of this venue for underground music in New
York City, and features interviews with and concert footage of the Dave
Matthews Band, Phish, Blues Traveler, moe., 311, Bob Weir, Warren Haynes,
the Roots, and the Disco Biscuits.
Asia and Oceania
Bali by Heart. 2007. Written and directed by Sylvia L’Ecuyer
(Canada). Distributed by Title House e-Distribution. DVD, 60 min. In June
2006 a group of twelve Canadian wind, brass, and piano players led by composer/ethnomusicologist
Michael Tenzer traveled to the Balinese village of Pengosekan to undertake
an unusual musical collaboration. Joining forces with the virtuoso gamelan
group Cudamani, they settled in for a month of intensive rehearsal, preparing
Tenzer’s complex new work "Underleaf”—scored for
the combined ensembles—for a premiere at the Bali Arts Festival. The
musicians’ interactions, contrastive learning and practice styles,
perceptions of one another, reactions to the music, and their growth and
development through the process are chronicled in this documentary, originally
titled Gongs and Trombones.
What Is Chinese Opera? 2004 (1984). Directed by Shu Kong (China).
Distributed by Insight Media. DVD, 33 min. Covers character roles in gestures,
singing styles, musical instruments used for accompaniment, scenery, costumes,
and training of opera singers and actors.
Awake Productions/Digital Maps
Berkeley Media LLC
2600 Tenth Street, Suite 626
Berkeley, CA 94710
510 486 9900
fax: 510 486 9944
The Cinema Guild, Inc.
114 West 30th Street, Suite 800
New York, NY 10001
212 685 6242
fax: 212 685 4717
Documentary Educational Resources
101 Morse Street
Watertown, MA 02472
800 569 6621
fax: 617 926 9519
P.O. Box 56
Makanda, IL 62958
618 351 6588
First Run Features
The Film Center Building
630 Ninth Avenue, Suite 1213
New York, NY 10036
212 243 0600
fax: 212 989 7649
20525 Nordhoff Street, Suite 200
Chatsworth, CA 91311
New York, NY 10024-0621
800 233 9910
fax: 212 799 5309
The Mountain Fund
Sandia Park, NM 87047
505 980 4520
fax: 866 903 1647
Third World Newsreel
545 Eighth Avenue, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10018
212 947 9277
fax: 212 594 6417
Title House e-Distribution
629 Eastern Avenue, Stage 13
Toronto, Ontario M4M 1E4
416 405 9881
fax: 416 405 9941