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Current Films and Videos, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Spring/Summer 2002)
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Compiled by Barbara Rose Lange (University of Houston)

Africa | Americas | Asia, Australia, and Oceania | Europe | Distributor Addresses


Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony. Directed by Lee Hirsch. Distributed by HBO/Cinemax. 108 mins. Details how protest songs were used in the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa. Includes interviews with activists and musicians who were exiled, archival footage of protests, and descriptions of music as a vehicle for communication among prisoners.

Gumboots: An Explosion of Spirit and Song. 2001 (2000). Distributed by Image Entertainment, Chatsworth, CA. DVD, 80 mins. Performance footage from a 1999-2000 tour by a Soweto group illustrating the rhythmic communication in chains and rubber boots that laborers developed in the mines of South Africa. DVD includes a documentary, The Gumboots Story.

I'll Sing for You. 2001. Directed by Jacques Sarasim. Distributed by Productions Faire Bleu, Paris, France. Video, 76 mins. Explores the effects of Boubacar Traoré's turn to political activism and advocacy of free speech in Mali. Once a popular singer, he fell into obscurity. Includes comments by other Malian musicians. [ Traore ]

On Tiptoe: The Music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. 2000. Directed by Eric Simonsen. 85 mins. Provides a history of isicathamiya and charts Ladysmith Black Mambazo's rise to stardom after the 1987 Graceland album; follows the group on tour.


El Alacrán (The Scorpion). 2001. Directed by Gloria Rolando. Distributed by AfroCubaWeb, Arlington, MA. Video, 19 mins. Depicts the history of carnaval in Cuba, and describes the importance of African culture in this tradition. Follows the comparsa group El Alacrán during the 2000 carnaval and compares its activities to those found in New Orleans. English subtitles. [ Alacran ]

American Roots Music. 2001. Directed by Jim Brown. Distributed by Palm Pictures, New York, NY. DVD. The four-part series originally for television, depicting U.S. gospel, country, blues, folk revival, Native American, and other "roots" music. DVD includes extra footage of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Valerio Longoria, Bob Wills, and others.

The Battle of Mexico City. 2001 (2000). Distributed by Sony Music, New York, NY. DVD, 68 mins. Concert and video journal of Rage Against the Machine as they performed in Mexico City. Includes footage of police riots outside the performance venue, and comments by band members supporting the Zapatistas and other groups that oppose Mexican government policies.

Blank Generation and Dancin’ Barefoot. 2000 (1976/1995). Directed by Ivan Kral and Amos Poe. Distributed by MVD, Oaks, PA. DVD. Digital remaster of the two films about seminal musicians of the New York punk scene.

Bomba - Dancing the Drum. 2000. Directed by Ashley James. 60 mins. Traces the history of bomba through the Cepedas, leading performers of this genre, over several generations.

Breath Control: The History of the Human Beat Box. 2001. Directed by Joey Garfield. Video, 80 mins. Depicts singers who replicate the sounds of drum machines, drawing links with African vocal traditions, scat-singing, and Tuvan throat singing. Incorporates animation; includes commentary by Michael Franti, Mos Def, and Marie Dualne.

Cuba Feliz. 2000. Directed by Karim Dridi. Distributed by Empire Pictures, New York, NY. 96 mins. A musical travelogue following Miguel del Morales, a guitarist and singer who hitchhikes across Cuba and jams with other musicians along the way. Filmed in everyday environments like plazas, courtyards, homes, and sports fields. English subtitles.

Denis A. Charles: An Interrupted Conversation. 2001. Directed by Véronique N. Doumbé. Distributed by Ndolo Films. 75 mins. Depicts avant-garde jazz drummer Charles, with performance footage from the last two years of his life. [ Veronique Doumbe]

The Devil's Accordion. 2000. Directed by Stefan Schwietert. Distributed by Celluloid Dreams World Sales. 35 mm, 90 mins. Follows Pacho Rada, an itinerant musician fictionalized by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Contrasts his poverty-stricken living conditions with the success of his songs. Includes footage of cumbia musician Alfredo Gutierrez and vallenato musician Israel Romero.

Down from the Mountain. 2000. Directed by Nick Doob, Chris Hegedus, and D.A. Pennebaker. Distributed by Cowboy Booking International, New York, NY, and Artisan Entertainment, Santa Monica, CA. Film and DVD, 98 mins. Features the musicians who played on the soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou? Depicts rehearsals and interviews with Alison Krauss, Ralph Stanley, Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, the Fairfield Four, and others, as well as their Nashville concert.

Down to the Crux. 2000. Directed by Michael Lucio Sternbach. Video, 45 mins. Explores connections between avant-garde jazz and the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Features music of John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler, and others.

Guadalupe, Mother of All Mexico. 2000. Directed by Pat Collins and Robert Cozens. Distributed by San Rafael-VHS Videos, Houston, TX. Beta SP, 57 mins. Follows pilgrimages to shrines of the Virgin Mary in many regions of Mexico. Includes footage of musical processionals and testaments about miracles.

Jimmy Scott: If You Only Knew. 2001. Directed by Matthew Buzzell. Distributed by Tree Media Group, Santa Monica, CA. DV, 77 mins. Documents the life and career of blues singer Jimmy Scott, including the medical condition that has produced his unique voice. Traces his fall into obscurity and subsequent rise, including a concert tour of Japan.

Karaoke Fever. 2001. Directed by Arthur Borman and Steve Danielson. Distributed by Arthur Borman, Los Angeles, CA. DV, 91 mins. Depicts Karaoke Fest, a high-profile karaoke contest in California. Includes interview and performance footage.

The Miles Davis Story. 2001. Directed by Mike Dibb. Distributed by Dibb Directions Ltd., London, UK. Video, 124 mins. Biography of Miles Davis; traces his stylistic experiments and delves into his private life.

Mule Skinner Blues. 2000. Directed by Stephen Earnhart and Victoria Ford. Distributed by Steel Carrot Productions, New York, NY. DV, 93 mins. Depicts aspiring singers and artists in Mayport, Florida. Utilizes techniques of collaboration and film production not usually associated with documentaries. Includes a music video that the directors shot of one of the subject's songs. Re-stages events, uses stop-motion animation, and incorporates a horror film that the subjects shoot themselves.

New York - Puerto Rico: William Cepeda's Jazz, el Trombon de Bomba. 2001. Directed by Louise Ernst. Distributed by Baila Films, Paris. Trombonist Cepeda has created a form of Latin jazz based on Puerto Rican bomba. This film depicts Cepeda visiting with people in Loiza, his home town in Puerto Rico, and with bomba performers in New York. 65 mins.

Rage: 20 Years of Punk Rock, West Coast Style. 2000. Directed by Scott Jacoby and Michael Bishop. Distributed by MVD, Oaks, PA. DVD, 66 mins. Depicts the punk rock scene on the west coast of the U.S. Focuses on major figures from groups like the Dead Kennedys and the Circle Jerks. Includes recollections of life in punk clubs and video clips made at the time. DVD includes director's comments and extra audio tracks.

The Ralph Stanley Story. 2000. Directed by Herb E. Smith. 82 mins. Describes the role of the Stanley brothers in the formation of bluegrass music.

The Split Horn: The Life of a Hmong Shaman in America. 2001. Directed by Tabbart Siegel. Distributed by Filmakers Library, New York, NY. 58 mins. Shows dilemmas in the life of Paja Thao, a Hmong shaman who emigrated with his family from Laos to the United States; Paja tries to continue the family's hereditary religion and other ways of life, as his children embrace American popular culture, including Christianity.

Standing in the Shadows of Motown. 2001. Directed by Paul Justman. Distributed by Artisan Entertainment, Santa Monica, CA. 16 mm, 116 mins. Describes the role of the Funk Brothers, the musicians Berry Gordy recruited from Detroit's jazz and blues scene to back up Motown singers. Stages a reunion of the surviving musicians, who accompany such singers as Me'Shell NdegeOcello, Chaka Khan, and Ben Harper in recreations of Motown classics.

Strange Fruit. 2002. Directed by Joel Katz. Distributed by California Newsreel, San Francisco, CA. Video, 57 mins. Traces the history of the song made famous in Billie Holiday's performance. Delves into the songwriter's background as a union activist; includes reflections by folksingers, civil rights activists, and modern-day jazz performers.

La Tropical. 2001. Directed by David Turnley. DV, 95 mins. Portrait of a dance hall, an amphitheater that serves as a center of social life for working-class Cubans. Includes footage of concerts, cabarets, and dances, as well as comments by musicologists, sociologists, and historians.

Van Van, Empezó la Fiesta (Van Van, Let's Party). 2000. Directed by Liliana Mazure and Aaron Vega. Distributed by ARCA Difusion, Buenos Aires, Argentina. 35 mm, 80 mins. Tells the thirty-year history of the Orquesta Van Van; examines the conflict between some band members, and shows anti-Castro opposition to the group as it performs in Miami. English subtitles. [ Empezo ]

You See Me Laughin. 2001. Directed by Mandy Stein. 16mm and video, 90 mins. Depicts the musicians and executives of the Fat Possum Records label. Includes footage of T-Model Ford, R.L. Burnside, and Cedell Davis, and comments by rock stars who concertized with them.

Asia, Australia, and Oceania

Facing the Music. 2001. Directed by Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson. Distributed by Film Australia, Lindfield, Australia. Video, 89 mins. Centers on the activities of Anne Boyd, a composition teacher at the University of Sydney. Shows Boyd as a demanding teacher with a vision of western classical music as an art form with spiritual significance. Follows Boyd as she and her staff cope with funding cutbacks.

Friends in High Places. 2001. Directed by Lindsey Merrison. Distributed by Lindsey Merrison, Bilthoven, The Netherlands. 86 mins. Depicts a cult of spirit mediumship that has been active under the military dictatorship in Burma.

Googoosh: Iran's Daughter. 2001. Directed by Farhad Zamani. Distributed by Atash Productions. Video, 155 mins. Reflects on the career of Googoosh in the context of the Iranian revolution. Conceived before the singer resumed public performances, this production includes footage of films in which Googoosh starred and interviews with songwriters and lyricists.

Kodo. 2001 (1999). Distributed by Image Entertainment, Chatsworth, CA. DVD, 69 mins. A documentary for Japanese television showing Kodo's training and apprenticeship routines on Sado island. Includes group members' reflections on the war-torn history of Croatia as they give a concert there. English subtitles.

Ribat. 2001. Directed by Deger Kavaz and Ozgür E. Arik. Distributed by Ankara University Faculty of Communication, Ankara, Turkey. 28 mins. Depicts Kurdish epic singers. [ Ozgur ]

Swing in Beijing. 2000 (1999). Directed by Shui Bo Wang. Distributed by First Run/Icarus, New York, NY. Video and DVD, 73 mins. Surveys the avant-garde arts in Beijing, depicting punk musicians, visual artists, and the director of a play.

A Voice from Heaven. 1999. Directed by Giuseppe Asaro. Distributed by WinStar, New York, NY. Video, 75 mins. A tribute to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, with concert footage and interviews with Nusrat, family members, and pop stars with whom he collaborated.

Youth. 2000. Directed by Ali Bilail, Samia Chala, and Muriel Aboulrouss. Distributed by First Run/Icarus, New York, NY. Video, 26 mins. Arab Diaries, Part 2. Examines the difficulties faced by young women in Lebanon, Egypt, and Algeria. The Algerian segment features two female rap musicians whose lyrics express political dissent.


Holy Mountain. 2001. Directed by Aleksei Aleksejev. Distributed by Faama Film, Tallinn, Estonia. 28 mins. Depicts a quadrennial ritual of the Mari people centered on a sacred mountain where gods relating to nature are honored. Relates efforts by the Russian Orthodox church to suppress the religion.

The Key from Spain: The Songs and Stories of Flory Jagoda. 2000. Directed by Ankica Petrovic and Mischa Livingstone. Distributed by National Center for Jewish Film, Waltham, MA. Video, 40 mins. Traces the life of Flory Jagoda from Bosnia through her emigration to North America. Includes footage of live concerts.

Listen with Pain: Einstürzende Neubaten. 2000. Directed by Birgit Herdlitschke and Christian Beetz. Distributed by Gebrüder Beetz Filmproduktion, Berlin. 57 mins. Relates the history of the German avant-garde group Einstürzende Neubaten and the context of their performances during the punk movement, the time of the Berlin wall, and tours to the U.S. and Japan. Includes material from interviews conducted with the bandmembers during the 1990s. [ Einsturzende Gebruder ]

Masquerade. 2001. Directed by Cornel Gheorghita. Distributed by Lapilli Films, Toulouse, France. 52 mins. Depicts masked new years celebrations in the Moldova region.

Russia’s Wonder Children (Russlands Wunderkinder). 2000. Directed by Irene Langermann. Distributed by First Run/Icarus, New York, NY. 35 mm, 98 mins. Depicts the life of child prodigies at the Moscow Conservatory. Includes historical footage from the Communist era; focuses on several young musicians, including one who is nearing adulthood.

Songs of Youth. 2001. Directed by Konstantin Selezen. Distributed by Selekt Films, Toronto, Ontario. 16 mm, 55 mins. Depicts the daily routine of a street musician, a blind accordion player who performs in the open-air marketplace of Odessa, Ukraine.

Distributor Addresses

Box 1054
Arlington, MA 02474

Ankara University
Faculty of Communication
Cebeci, Ankara, Turkey
fax: 90-312-3622717

ARCA Difusion, S.A.
Avda. Sante Fe 2206, Piso 4 3/4 "G" (1123)
Buenos Aires
fax: 5411-4825-9369

Arthur Borman
P.O. Box 3463
Los Angeles, CA 90078

Artisan Entertainment
fax: 310-255-3860

Atash Productions

Baila Films
210 rue Saint-Maur
75010 Paris, France
fax: 33-1-42417691

California Newsreel
149 Ninth Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
fax: 415-621-6522

Celluloid Dreams World Sales
fax: 33-1-49700371

Cowboy Booking International
6 W. 24th St.
New York, NY 10010
fax: 212-929-9786

Dibb Directions Ltd.
27 Lillian Rd.
London SW13 9JG
fax: 44-208-7481148

Empire Pictures
Ed Arentz
350 Fifth Ave., Ste. 7801
New York, NY 10018
fax: 212-629-3529

Faama Film
Gonsiori 27
Tallinn, Estonia
fax: 372-6462028

Film Australia Video Sales
101 Eton Rd.
Lindfield NSW 2070, Australia
61 02 9413 8634
fax: 61 02 9416 9401

Filmakers Library, Inc.
124 East 40th St.
New York, NY 10016

First Run/Icarus Films
153 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10014

Gebrüder Beetz Filmproduktion
Kastanienallee 102
10435 Berlin, Germany
fax: 49-30-44054086
[ Gebruder ]

fax: 212-512-5915

Image Entertainment

Lapilli Films
19 rue Deodora
31400 Toulouse, France
fax: 33-5-61259798

Lindsey Merrison
Eberschenallee 15
Bilthoven, Netherlands
fax: 49-30-30614447

MVD - Music Video Distributors
PO Box 280
Oaks, PA 19456

National Center for Jewish Film
Brandeis University
Lown 102 MS053
Waltham, MA 02454-9110
fax: 781-736-2070

Ndolo Films

Palm Pictures
601 W. 26th St., 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
fax: 212-360-3609

Productions Faire Bleu
5, Rue de Charonne
75011 Paris, France
fax: 33-1-48070562

San Rafael-VHS Videos
1110 Bissonet
Houston, TX 77005

Selekt Films
60 Mountview Ave., Ste. 1601
Toronto, ONT M6P 2 L4 Canada

Sony Music
550 Madison Avenue, 27th fl.
New York, NY 10022-3211

Steel Carrot Productions
250 W. 49th St., Ste. 301
New York, NY 10019
fax: 212-246-8725

Tree Media Group
2218 Main St., 2nd floor
Santa Monica, CA 90405
fax: 310-396-8631

WinStar Communications/Fox Lorber
419 Park Ave. South, 20th floor
New York, NY 10016

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