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Current Films and Videos, Volume 52, No. 2 (Spring/Summer 2008)
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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 support.

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 English subtitles.

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, or Quechua.

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 52/2:339-341).

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.

Distributor Information

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

Image Entertainment
20525 Nordhoff Street, Suite 200
Chatsworth, CA 91311

Insight Media
2162 Broadway
New York, NY 10024-0621
800 233 9910
fax: 212 799 5309

The Mountain Fund
27 Sumption
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
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