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Current Films and Videos, Volume 53, No. 1 (Winter 2009)
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Compiled by David Henderson (St. Lawrence University)

Acknowledgements: St. Lawrence University Libraries for financial and technical support. This issue includes several documentary and feature films from Iran that revolve around musical subjects. Thanks to Kamran Hooshmand in the Media Studies Program at the University of Texas at Austin for drawing my attention to these.

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


Crossing over. 2007 (1988). Written and directed by Christopher Laird and Wallace Bampoe-Addo (Ghana/Trinidad & Tobago). Distributed by Banyan Archives. DVD, 58 min. In this exploration of the links between calypso and highlife, Trinidadian calypso musician Lancelot Layne tours Ghana with highlife musician Koo Nimo, and Koo Nimo tours Trinidad with Lancelot Layne.

Lomax the Songhunter. 2007 (2005). Directed by Rogier Kappers (Netherlands). Distributed by DaViD. DVD, 93 min. After visiting Lomax in Florida a year before his death in 2002, the filmmaker decided to search for people Lomax recorded, and travelled to Scotland, Spain, and Italy in an old Volkswagen. His search is combined with historical footage of Lomax and his work and conversations with Lomax’s friends, colleagues, and relatives. In Dutch, Spanish, Italian, and English with German, French, Dutch, or English subtitles.

Sufi Soul: The Mystical Music of Islam. 2008. Directed by Simon Broughton (UK). Distributed by Riverboat Records/World Music Network. DVD, 49 min. Film written and presented by William Dalrymple, who describes it as "a journey to the other side of Islam.” Featuring appearances by Sain Zahoor, the Galata Mevlevi Ensemble, Kudsi Erguner, Mercan Dede, Goonga and Mithu Sain, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen, Junoon, Abdennbi Zizi, and Youssou N’Dour.


From Mambo to Hip Hop: A Bronx Tale. 2006. Directed by Henry Chalfant (USA). Distributed by MVD Entertainment Group. DVD, 56 min. Documentary about the creative life of the South Bronx, beginning with the Puerto Rican migration and the adoption of Cuban rhythms to create the New York salsa sound, and ending with reflections on the power of the neighborhood’s music. (Reviewed in Ethnomusicology 53/1:181-184.)

Get Thrashed: The Story of Thrash Metal. 2008. Directed by Rick Ernst (USA). Distributed by Warner Home Video. DVD, 99 min. Documentary featuring performances by and interviews with Metallica, Pantera, In Flames, Overkill, and others. Gary Knot of Exodus captures the feel of thrash metal well: "Everyone had a good time even if they were bleeding.”

Listen up: The Lives of Quincy Jones. 2009 (1990). Directed by Ellen Weissbrod (USA). Distributed by Warner Home Video. DVD, 115 min. Re-release of this biopic described by Rita Kempley of the Washington Post as a "joyous psychodynamic jumble.”

No Sleep ‘til Texas: The MusicFest at Steamboat. 2008. Written and directed by Willy Braun and Bryan T. Shaw (USA). Distributed by Dickson Productions. DVD, 67 min. Documentary co-directed by Reckless Kelly front man Willy Braun, with concert footage and interviews with participants, crews, organizers, and artists, including Ray Wylie Hubbard, Robert Earl Keen, Cross Canadian Ragweed, and the Randy Rogers Band.

Paraguay según Agustín Barrios/Paraguay according to Agustín Barrios. 2008. Directed by Marcelo Martinessi (Paraguay). Distributed by OnMusic Recordings. DVD, 33 min. Guitarist Berta Rojas retraces the steps of this composer for the classical guitar, playing eight of his works along the way. In Spanish or English.

Rituales sonoros: Candombe/Ritual Rhythms: Candombe. 2007 (1999). Directed by Franca Gonzalez (Uruguay/Argentina). Distributed by Third World Newsreel. DVD, 44 min. Beautifully shot film in which interviews, primarily with candombe drummers, are intercut with street performances from Montevideo.

Soca in She Samba. 2007 (1987). Produced and directed by Christopher Laird (Brazil/Trinidad & Tobago). Distributed by Banyan Archives. DVD and VHS, 46 min. Following the success of his song "Bahia Gyul,” 1986 calypso monarch was invited to Bahia, Brazil. In this film he acts as tour guide, exploring the African roots of Brazilian culture. In English and Portuguese with English subtitles.

Unsigned. 2007. Directed by Ri-Karlo Handy (USA). Distributed by Vanguard Cinema. DVD, 78 min. While most hip-hop documentaries focus on well-known artists, this film explores the hip-hop industry from the perspective of unknown artists hoping to become stars.

Asia and Oceania

Do kamancheh/Two Bows. 2005. Directed by Bahman Kiarostami (Iran). Distributed by Butimar Productions. DVD, 46 min. Documentary focusing on the disparate realities of Persian musicians today and their effects on the survival of this instrument. In Persian with English subtitles.

Niwemang/Half Moon. 2006. Directed by Bahman Ghobadi (Iran). Distributed by Strand Releasing. DVD, 107 min. In this feature film, Mamo, an iconic Kurdish musician in the twilight of his life and in failing health, must lead a dozen of his sons to Iraq for a concert to celebrate the fall of Saddam Hussein and the end of his repression of Kurdish music. In Kurdish and Persian with English subtitles.

Santouri/The Music Man. 2007. Directed by Dariush Mehrjui (Iran). Distributed by irdvds.com. DVD, 106 min. From the acclaimed director of the 1969 film Gaav/The Cow, this feature film is a harrowing account of a greatly gifted artist’s slide into heroin addiction. In Persian with English subtitles.


The Singing Revolution. 2006. Directed by Maureen Castle Tusty and James Tusty (USA/Estonia). Distributed by Mountain View Productions. DVD, 94 min. History of the role music played in Estonia during the Nazi and Soviet occupations and its central place in the move toward political independence in the late 1980s. Includes interviews with more than forty movement leaders, Estonian statesmen, and average citizens, along with rare, forgotten footage of life under Soviet rule. (Reviewed in Ethnomusicology 53/1:179-181.)

Distributor Information

Banyan Archives
3 Adam Smith Square
Port of Spain
Trinidad & Tobago
868 681 0175
fax: 868 622 4601

Butimar Productions
P.O. Box 609
Menlo Park, CA 94026-0609
650 327 7908
fax: 650 322 1359

Rounder Europe
Vadaring 92
6702 EB Wageningen
The Netherlands
+31 317 497 654
fax: +31 317 419 119

Dickson Productions
6425 South IH 35, Suite 105, PMB #293
Austin, TX 78744
512 295 3300
fax: 512 295 8801


Mountain View Productions
Mountain View Group
426 State Street, 3rd Floor
Schenectady, NY 12305
518 346 2034
fax: 518 346 0949

MVD Entertainment Group
422 Business Center
H-840 North Circle Drive
Oaks, PA 19456
610 650 8200
fax: 610 650 9102

OnMusic Recordings
8103 Eastern Avenue B403
Silver Spring, MD 20910
202 470 6366

Riverboat Records/World Music Network
6 Abbeville Mews
88 Clapham Park Road
London SW4 7BX
+44 020 7498 5252
fax: +44 020 7498 5353

Strand Releasing
6140 West Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232
310 836 7500
fax: 310 836 7510

Third World Newsreel
545 Eighth Avenue, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10018
212 947 9277
fax: 212 594 6417

Vanguard Cinema
7050 Village Drive, Suite A
Buena Park, CA 90621
800 218 7888
fax: 714 562 9022

Warner Home Video
4000 Warner Boulevard
Burbank, CA 91522

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