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Current Films and Videos, Volume 49, No. 3 (Fall 2005)
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Compiled by David Henderson (St. Lawrence University)

Along with recent releases, this issue includes older films distributed by Insight Media and the Cinema Guild that did not appear in earlier issues.

Acknowledgements:St. Lawrence University Libraries for financial and technical support.

General | Africa | Americas | Asia and Oceania | Europe | Distributor Information


Chants Encounter. 1995. Directed by Don Hill (Canada). Distributed by Insight Media. DVD, 28 mins. Examination of chant and its significance in Greek, Mongolian, Hopi, Mayan, Tibetan, and Benedictine cultures, with particular attention to a performance by the Ganden Jangtse monks in India.

Music and Culture. 1977. Produced by Mary Watanabe (USA). Distributed by Insight Media. VHS, 40 mins. Introduction to the study of music and culture, including discussions of musical change, music and religion, and music and communication in Polynesian, African, and Native American cultures. Suitable for junior and senior high school students.

Sound, Music, and the Environment. 1999. Directed by Martin D. Toub (USA). Distributed by Insight Media. VHS, 30 mins. Survey of the definitions of music, co-written by Toub, James Cowdery, and Dorothea Hast. Considers the relations between style and culture in Tuvan throat singing and Bosnian ganga and becarac singing, as well as in music from Ireland, West Africa, Trinidad, Japan, and the United States.


Song of the Spear. 1986. Directed by Barry Feinberg (UK). Distributed by the Cinema Guild. VHS, 57 mins. Exploration of the struggle for liberation in South Africa, intercutting excerpts from a British tour by the cultural ensemble, Amandla, with street performances and interviews in South Africa.

Songololo: Voices of Change. 1990. Directed by Marianne Kaplan (Canada). Distributed by the Cinema Guild. VHS, 54 mins. Documentary on the artistic resistance to apartheid in South Africa, with the participation of poet Mzwakhe Mbuli, writers Gcina Mhlophe and Nadine Gordimer, musician Johnny Clegg, and ANC leader Walter Sisulu.

Under African Skies. 1989. Produced by Mark Kidel and Michael Raeburn (UK). Distributed by Insight Media. VHS, 120 mins. Episodes on music in Zimbabwe and Mali from the BBC TV series of the same name, with the participation of Ghanaian actor Hugh Quarshie.


Afrocubanismo! 1995. Directed by Alejandro F. Escobar (Cuba/Canada). Distributed by Insight Media. DVD, 52 mins. Investigation of Afrocuban influences on contemporary music. With interviews and performances by Muñequitos de Matanzas and Chucho Valdés.

Beef III. 2005. Directed by Peter Spirer (USA). Distributed by Image Entertainment. DVD, 85 mins. Hot on the heels of Beef (2003) and Beef II (2004) comes this fetchingly titled work narrated by DJ Kayslay and featuring 50 Cent, The Game, Yukmouth, Jim Jones, and others.

Brian Wilson Presents Smile. 2005 (2004). Directed by David Leaf and John Anderson (USA). Distributed by Rhino Home Video. DVD, 240 mins. Includes the Showtime documentary, Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and The Story of Smile, and a recording of a live performance of Smile in Los Angeles, along with interviews, outtakes, and highlights from the world premiere of Smile at Royal Festival Hall in London in February, 2004.

Destination Barbados. 1997. Directed by Ola Balogun (Nigeria). Distributed by the Cinema Guild. VHS, 29 mins. This documentary features some of the island's leading performers, discusses the origins of calypso music and its blending of Caribbean and African influences, traces the history of Barbados (including a celebrated 19th century slave rebellion), and displays the colorful and spectacular costumes which transform individual celebrants into walking parade floats.

Dig! 2005 (2004). Directed by Ondi Timoner (USA). Distributed by Palm Pictures. DVD, 107 mins. Documentary shot from 1996 to 2002, focusing in particular on the friendship and rivalry between Anton Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Courtney Taylor of the Dandy Warhols. The film will "stay with you longer than either band’s ephemeral music,” writes Laura Sinagra of the Village Voice.

Discovering American Indian Music. 1971. Directed by Bernard Wilets (USA). Distributed by Insight Media. DVD, 24 mins. Survey of Native American music from around the United States.

Festival. 2005 (1967). Directed by Murray Lerner (USA). Distributed by Eagle Rock Entertainment. DVD, 97 mins. A classic film (nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary in 1968) made up of Newport Folk Festival footage shot from 1963 to 1966. Roger Ebert described the film as "marvelously entertaining” in a May 21, 1968 review for the Chicago Sun-Times. "Lerner shows performances by some 30 different singers; we rarely get more than a chorus or two of each (although we get a great deal too much of Peter, Paul and Mary).”

Girl Beat: Power of the Drum. 2003. Directed by Suzanne Girot (Brazil). Distributed by the Cinema Guild. VHS, 47 mins. Profile of Banda Didá, an all-female drumming and vocal group in Salvador, Brazil, which incorporates slave stories into its lyrics and performs in the same town square where slaves were once sold. Along with providing background on the colonial history of the nation, Girot visits with several members of the group in their homes and shows their auditions, rehearsals, and performances. In Portuguese with English subtitles.

Hip-Hop: A Culture of Influence. 1999. Directed by Torrance York (USA). Distributed by Insight Media. VHS, 28 mins. Consideration of questions of race, sexuality, commercialism, and representation in hip-hop, explored primarily through interviews with musicians, journalists, writers, and scholars. Commissioned by the Brooklyn Museum of Art and produced by Youth Organizers Television.

Indiana Aria. 2002. Directed by Elizabeth Pollock (USA). Distributed by the Cinema Guild. DVD, 24 mins. Documentary tracing the lives and aspirations of four opera students in the School of Music at Indiana University.

Letter to the President. 2005 (2004). Directed by Thomas Gibson (USA). Distributed by Image Entertainment. DVD, 90 mins. Documentary on the relations between hip-hop and politics, featuring interviews with Wyclef Jean, Russell Simmons, Black Eyed Peas, Amiri Baraka, Nelson George, and others. Narrated by Snoop Dogg.

Louisiana Hayride. 1984. Produced by Rick Smith and Carole Adornetto Leslie (USA). Distributed by Kultur. DVD, 62 mins. Documentary about the Louisiana Hayride show on radio station KWKH in Shreveport, Louisiana, which aired from 1948 to 1958. Narrated by Hank Williams, Jr.

Mad Hot Ballroom. 2005. Directed by Marilyn Agrelo (USA). Distributed by Paramount Home Video. DVD, 105 mins. Wonderfully shot and edited documentary that follows three ballroom dance classes for fifth-graders at New York City public schools as they prepare for a city-wide competition.

The Music of the Devil, the Bear, and the Condor. 1989. Directed by Mike Akester (USA). Distributed by the Cinema Guild. VHS, 52 mins. Documentary of Aymara ceremonies, festivals, and performances, filmed in the Andes, with music by Inti-Raymi.

Musical Instruments and Genres of Lambayeque. 1994. Directed by Gisela Cánepa Koch (Peru). Distributed by Insight Media. VHS, 27 mins. Exploration of music in coastal and mountainous Lambayeque in Peru.

Musique Antillean. 1992. Directed by Tony Hall (Trinidad & Tobago). Distributed by Insight Media. VHS, 30 mins. Examination of zouk and cadance in Martinique and other parts of the French Caribbean.

The Pipes Are Calling. 1990. Directed by Susan Arbuthnot (USA). Distributed by the Cinema Guild. VHS, 29 mins. Portrait of a summer bagpipe school at North Idaho College, filmed in 1988.

Riding with the King. 1989. Directed by Lisa Roach and Daphne Ireland (USA). Distributed by the Cinema Guild. VHS, 59 mins. Documentary accompanying an Elvis Presley fan from Tupelo, Mississippi, to Memphis, Tennessee.

Rockin’ at the Red Dog: The Dawn of Psychedelic Rock. 2005. Directed by Mary Works (USA). Distributed by Monterey Media. VHS and DVD, 91 mins. Documentary of the incubation of psychedelic rock at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada, assembled out of music, photographs, lightshows, poster art, interviews, performances, and rare archival footage. Narrated by Howard Hesseman.

See You in Hell, Blind Boy. 1998. Directed by Steven Budlong (USA). Distributed by the Cinema Guild. VHS, 52 mins. Documentary following George Pratt as he tours the Mississippi Delta doing research for his novel of the same name. Includes archival footage of Muddy Waters, Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James and Howlin’ Wolf. Winner of the Best Documentary at the 1999 New York International Independent Film & Video Festival.

Sing! Healing, Community, Celebration. 2000. Directed by Bill Weaver (USA). Distributed by the Cinema Guild. VHS, 52 mins. Profile of three female vocalists: Shivon Robinsong, director of the Gettin’ Higher Choir, a no-audition choir; Gina Sala, who has overcome what might be perceived as the limitations of a high-pitched voice to develop a distinctive singing style, filtered through fourteen different languages; and Laurel Murphy, who has returned to singing after a decade-long hiatus.

The Soul of the Islands. 1988. Directed by Alain d’Aix (Canada). Distributed by the Cinema Guild. VHS, 30 mins. Docu-drama following poet Anthony Phelps as he returns from Montreal to his native Haiti, and featuring Haitian singer Toto Bissainthe, who recounts in song a fable that recreates the island’s past and reveals its continuing tragedy.

The Spitball Story. 1997. Directed by Jean Bach (USA). Distributed by the Cinema Guild. VHS, 21 mins. A short film about Dizzy Gillespie’s antics as a performer in Cab Calloway’s band. Includes interviews with Milt Hinton, Dizzy Gillespie, and Jonah Jones, as well as archival performance footage.

Still Swingin’: The History of Bob Wills and Western Swing Music. 2005 (1994). Directed by Christopher Lewis (USA). Distributed by VCI Entertainment. DVD, 303 mins. DVD re-release of documentary of Bob Wills and the history of Western swing music, with over four hours of additional materials. Hosted by Red Steagall. [Originally cited in the "Current Film/Videography” in Ethnomusicology 40/1.]

Sun, Moon & Feather. 1989. Directed by Bob Rosen and Jane Zipp (USA). Distributed by the Cinema Guild. VHS, 30 mins. This prize-winning musical comedy/documentary, blending documentary, musical theater and personal memoir, is about three Native American sisters growing up in Brooklyn during the 1930s and ‘40s. Starring Lisa Mayo, Gloria Miguel, and Muriel Miguel.

Verso Negro. 1999. Directed by Leita Luchetti and Ben Levin (USA). Distributed by the Cinema Guild. VHS, 40 mins. A profile of Efraín Ortiz, a Puerto Rican declamador of verso negro, an African-influenced style of poetry that arose in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic from the 1920's through the 1940's and remains popular today. Some historical background on the verso negro movement and its major poets, such as Fortunato Vizcarrondo, Nicolás Guillén, and Luis Palés Matos, is provided. Ortiz is seen in performance in Puerto Rico and at a cultural festival in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Willie the Lion. 2004 (2001). Directed by Marc Fields (USA). Distributed by Shanachie Entertainment. DVD, 57 mins. Biography of Harlem legend William Henry Joseph Bonaparte Bertholoff Smith, otherwise known as "The Lion.” Narrated by Joe Morton and featuring performances by Willie the Lion Smith, Eubie Blake, and Dick Hyman.

The Work of Director Anton Corbijn. 2005. Produced by Richard Brown and Juliette Larthe (USA). Distributed by Palm Pictures. DVD. Vol. 6 in The Directors Label series. Includes music videos for Metallica, Depeche Mode, Nirvana, Herbert Grönemeyer, and others, along with shorts, interviews, and commentaries.

The Work of Director Jonathan Glazer. 2005. Produced by Juliette Larthe and Richard Brown (USA). Distributed by Palm Pictures. DVD. Vol. 5 in The Directors Label series. Includes music videos for Radiohead, Jamiroquai, Massive Attack, and others, along with commericals, film excerpts, interviews, and commentaries.

The Work of Director Mark Romanek. 2005. Produced by Richard Brown and Lance Bangs (USA). Distributed by Palm Pictures. DVD. Vol. 4 in The Directors Label series. Includes music videos for Jay-Z, Johnny Cash, Madonna, Beck, kd lang, and others, along with short documentaries, interviews, and commentaries.

The Work of Director Stéphane Sednaoui. 2005. Produced by Richard Brown and Stephanie Bruni (USA). Distributed by Palm Pictures. DVD. Vol. 7 in The Directors Label series. Includes music videos for Mirwais, Tricky, Alanis Morissette, U2, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and others, along with short films, interviews, and commentaries.

Asia and Oceania

Chen and China’s Symphony. 1988. Directed by David M. Kendall (USA). Distributed by the Cinema Guild. VHS, 58 mins. Documentary of part of the Central Philharmonic’s 1987 tour of the USA. Includes interviews with conductor Zuohuang Chen, along with excerpts of performances and highlights of the orchestra’s travels, such as a visit to a farm in Iowa.

Chinese Instruments and Music. 1992 (1983). Directed by Deben Bhattacharya (UK). Distributed by Insight Media. VHS, 30 mins. Includes footage of performances on string and reed instruments and tours of musical instrument factories.

Chugoku teki gakki/Chinese Musical Instruments. 1989. Produced by Chengziong Chen (Taiwan). Distributed by Insight Media. DVD, 252 mins. Extensive survey of Chinese instruments and their use. In Chinese with English subtitles.

Khyal: Classical Singing of North India. 1999. Produced by Robert Philip (UK). Distributed by Insight Media. DVD, 48 mins. Singer Veena Sahasrabuddhe discusses and demonstrates khyal and gives a performance of rageshri (with Bharat Kamath, tabla), recorded in Pune in April, 1996. Devised by Martin Clayton, with accompanying texts by Martin Clayton and Veen Sahasrabuddhe.

Wayang Golék: Performing Arts of Sunda (West Java). 1999. Produced by Robert Philip (UK). Distributed by Insight Media. DVD, 42 mins. Introduction to the rod-puppet theater of Sunda, focusing on puppeteer, musician, and puppet-maker Atik Rasta and his family, with a demonstration of the Sundanese gamelan piece, Béndrong. Shot in and around Bandung, West Java, in September, 1996. Devised by Martin Clayton, with accompanying texts by Martin Clayton and Simon Cook.


Chia e tazi pesen?/Whose Is This Song? 2005 (2003). Directed by Adela Peeva (Belgium/Bulgaria). Distributed by Documentary Educational Resources. DVD, 70 mins. Chronicle of Peeva’s journey around the Balkan region in search of a melody claimed by the citizens of different countries as their own. Although somewhat naïve in her approach, Peeva captures intriguingly diverse versions of the song and perspectives on its circulation. In Bulgarian, Turkish, Greek, Macedonian, Albanian, Bosnian, Serbian, and English, with English subtitles.

Distributor Information

The Cinema Guild
130 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016-7038
fax: 212.685.4717

Documentary Educational Resources
101 Morse Street
Watertown, MA 02472
fax: 617.926.9519

Eagle Rock Entertainment
22 West 38th Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10018
fax: 212.354.1103

Image Entertainment
9333 Oso Avenue
Chatsworth, CA 91311

Insight Media
2162 Broadway
New York, NY 10024-0621

195 Highway 36
West Long Branch, NJ 07764

Monterey Media
566 St. Charles Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
fax: 805.496.6061

Palm Pictures
601 West 26th Street, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
fax: 212.360.3609

Paramount Home Video
5555 Melrose Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90038

Rhino Home Video

Shanachie Entertainment
37 East Clinton Street
Newton, NJ 07860
fax: 973.579.7083

VCI Entertainment
11333 E. 60th Place
Tulsa, OK 74146-6828
fax: 918.254.6117
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