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Current Films and Videos, Volume 50, No. 1 (Winter 2006)
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Compiled by David Henderson (St. Lawrence University)

This issue includes several older VHS recordings that did not appear in earlier issues, as well as a few recent DVD releases of older films.

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

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


The Human Hambone. 2005. Directed by Mark Morgan (USA). Distributed by First Run/Icarus Films. VHS and DVD, 49 mins. Demonstration and celebration of the ways in which the human body can be used as a musical instrument. Traces the historical roots of body music back to eighteenth-century American history and examines body music within an anthropological framework.


African Culture: Drumming and Dance. 2000 (1994). Directed by Mitch Jacobsen (USA). Distributed by AIMS Multimedia. DVD, 21 mins. Short program intended for grades 4-8, hosted by singer, choreographer and storyteller Margo Blake and percussionist Tony Rios.

African Drumming. 1993. Directed by Cecilia Mastrorilli (USA). Distributed by Interworld Music. VHS, 50 mins. Discussion of Nigerian drum traditions, drumming techniques, and rhythms for djembe and ashiko, presented by Babatunde Olatundji.


Colors Straight Up. 2005 (1998). Directed by Michèle Ohayon (USA). Distributed by Docurama. DVD, 90 mins. Film tracing the work of Colors United, a performing arts group for teenagers in Watts. Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary in 1998, this film is currently being remade as a Hollywood drama under executive producer Morgan Freeman.

Come Let Us Dance (Lomir Geyn Tantsn). 2002. Directed by Karen Goodman (USA). Distributed by Ergo Home Video. DVD, 48 mins. An investigation of klezmer dance styles and their preservation and transformation in the diaspora. Centers around Miriam Rochlin, a student of Polish-born dancer and choreographer Nathan Vizonsky, as she teaches a freylekhs and two versions of the sher and converses with the director.

The Cry of Jazz. 2003 (1959). Directed by Edward O. Bland (USA). Distributed by Music Video Distributors. DVD, 34 mins. Filmed in Chicago, The Cry of Jazz begins by pitting black and white actors against each other in a conversation on jazz and race, then moves into a freewheeling, occasionally interrupted monologue on jazz forms and styles. Filmed by composer Edward O. Bland and featuring Sun Ra and His Arkestra.

Cuba Mía: Portrait of an All-Woman Orchestra. 2005. Directed by Cecilia Domeyko (Cuba). Distributed by V.I.E.W. Inc. DVD, 86 mins. Exploration of the work and lives of the members of Camerata Romeu, a Cuban chamber ensemble that performs an eclectic array of musics under the baton of conductor Zenaida Romeu. In English or Spanish. [Cuba Mia]

Cubanissimo: A History of Cuban Music. 2004. Directed by Philippe Blot (Cuba). Distributed by Synkronized USA. Available from Facets Multi-Media. DVD, 90 mins. Documentary assembled from archival photographs and film footage along with recent interviews with and performances by influential musicians. Includes segments with Beny More, Silvio Rodriguez, Pablo Milanes, Bola de Nieve, Lino Borges, and others. In Spanish with English subtitles.

5 Sides of a Coin. 2004. Directed by Paul Kell (USA/Canada). Distributed by Seventh Art Releasing. DVD, 70 mins. Overview of the international culture of hip-hop, featuring Afrika Bambaataa and Kool Herc, this is a fast-paced collage of insightful interviews with Grandmaster Flash, Gil Scott-Heron, Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples, the Pharcyde, DJ Spooky, Miho Hatori, and others. Filmed on location in Vancouver, New York City, Washington, London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Milan, Bangkok, and Tokyo.

Legendary Voices: Cantors of Yesteryear. 1991. Produced by Ergo Media Inc. (USA). Distributed by Ergo Home Video. VHS, 58 mins. Compilation of performances by Mordechai Hershman, Adolph Katchko, Samuel Malavsky, Moishe Oysher, David Roltman, Yossele Rosenblatt, Josef Shlisky, and Leibele Waldman, assembled from Joseph Seiden’s sound films (1931-1950) and A. J. Bloome’s Dream of My People (1933). Includes brief introductions to each cantor, excerpted from Velvel Pasternak and Noah Schall’s compilation, The Golden Age of Cantors (1991).

No Borders—Canto. 2001. Directed by Wayne Miller & Michael B. Borofsky USA). Distributed by Image Entertainment. VHS and DVD, 125 mins. Follows Los Super Seven from the studio, where they finish work on their album, Canto, to the concert stage, where they perform "Siboney,” "Compay Gato,” "Teresa” and other songs.

Sing Faster: The Stagehands’ Ring Cycle. 1998. Directed by Jon Else (USA). Distributed by Docurama. DVD, 56 mins. A quick trip through seventeen hours of Wagner, this film follows the rehearsals, performances, and backstage life of the stage crew at the San Francisco Opera. Stagehands break in on occasion to provide a cheerful, no-nonsense synopsis of the four works of the cycle.

Welcome to Death Row. 2001. Directed by S. Leigh Savidge (USA). Distributed by Xenon Pictures. VHS and DVD, 104 mins. History of Death Row Records, "a label run like a gang, or perhaps the other way around,” as Nathan Rabin puts it in his review of the film for The Onion. Starring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Suge Knight, Kevin Powell, and Tupac Shakur.

Why Elvis? 1993. Directed by David Leonard (USA). Distributed by Kultur. DVD, 75 mins. Documentary focusing not so much on Elvis Presley as on the people he knew and the fans and impersonators who continue to honor his memory. With music by Mojo Nixon, Phineas Newborn, Jr., the Brewers, and the King Bisquick Boys.

Asia and Oceania

From Mao To Mozart: Isaac Stern in China. 2000 (1980). Directed by Murray Lerner (USA). Distributed by Docurama. DVD, 115 mins. Winner of the Oscar for Best Documentary in 1981, this film follows Stern on his month-long tour of China in 1979. This release also includes two short films: Musical Encounters, which documents a return visit twenty years later, and The Gentleman from Shanghai, a biography of Chinese violinist and violin-maker Tan Shuzhen, directed by Heather Greer.

Hom rong/The Overture. 2004. Directed by Anant Narkong (Thailand). Distributed by Kino International. DVD, 104 mins. Winner of six awards, including Best Picture, at the Thailand National Film Association Awards in 2005, this feature film is a biography of Luang Pradit Pairoh (1881-1954), one of the most famous composers of traditional Thai music of the 20th century. In Thai with English subtitles.

Jewish Soul Music: The Art of Giora Feidman. 1992 (1980). Directed by Uri Barbash (Netherlands/Israel). Distributed by Ergo Home Video. VHS, 45 mins. Profile of Giora Feidman, a former clarinetist with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra who later in life took up klezmer music. Includes extensive excerpts of his solo and ensemble performances.


Edith Piaf: A Passionate Life. 2003 (1967). Directed by Marcel Blistène (France). Distributed by Kultur. DVD, 50 mins. This documentary was made for French television four years after Piaf’s death, and includes footage of her life and the massive funeral procession for her in Paris. Also includes clips from several of her film appearances. Re-released with narration in English.

Music Hall Days. 2002. Directed by Stephen Gammond (UK). Distributed by Kultur. DVD, 69 mins. History of British music hall, or variety. This film traces its origins to the Bartholomew Fayres of the 13th century, but focuses more on its flourishing in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Hosted by Canadian television actor and professional dancer Lionel Blair.

Distributor Information

AIMS Multimedia
Discovery Education
20765 Superior Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311
fax: 818.341.6700

126 Fifth Ave 15th Floor
New York, NY 10011
fax: 212.206.9001

Ergo Home Video
P.O. Box 2037
Teaneck, NJ 07666-1437

Facets Multi-Media
1517 West Fullerton Avenue
Chicago, IL 60614
fax: 773.929.5437

First Run/Icarus Films
32 Court Street, 21st Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201
fax: 718.488.8642

Image Entertainment
9333 Oso Avenue
Chatsworth, CA 91311

Interworld Music
148 Weatherhead Hollow
Guilford, VT 05301
fax: 802.257.9211

Kino International
333 West 39th Street, Suite 503
New York, NY 10018
fax: 212.714.0871

195 Highway 36
West Long Branch, NJ 07764

Music Video Distributors
P.O. Box 280
Oaks, PA 19456

Seventh Art Releasing
7551 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 104
Los Angeles, CA 90046
fax: 323.845.4717

V.I.E.W. Inc.
34 East 23rd Street
New York, NY 10010

Xenon Pictures
1440 9th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401
fax: 310.395.4058

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