Check out the dynamic line-up of music films screening this year at the 3oth Pan African Film and Arts Festival 2022
Oscar Peterson: Black + White (Documentary, 83 min, Canada) Directed by Barry Avrich
This film explores the life and legacy of the great Afro-Canadian jazz icon and composer Oscar Peterson -- his sound, stardom, and staggering virtuosity. His family are among the people who fled or migrated to Canada from slavery and individual acts of racism or structural racism in the United States. This ground-breaking “docu-concert” delves into the seven-decade career of this jazz master from his days as a child prodigy in Canada to the development of his signature sound on recordings with his trio, and from collaborations with the legends of his era to his brilliant solo performances around the world — as well as his tenacious experiences confronting racism and segregation while touring the United States and the world, which culminated with his epic composition, Hymn to Freedom, inspired by Mr. Nelson Mandela and his peoples’ struggle for freedom and majority rule.
Buddy Guy: The Blues Chase the Blues Away (Documentary, 82 min, US) Directed by Charles Todd & Devin Amar
The story of Buddy Guy, who transcended his early years sharecropping in 1940s racist Louisiana to become one of music’s most influential guitarists, directly inspiring Taj Mahal, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton. A tale of decades-long perseverance, Buddy’s journey reflects his peoples’ experiences in America through their music--the blues.
Love, Longing, Loss: At Home with Charles Lloyd During a Year of the Plague (Documentary, 60 min, US) Directed by Dorothy Darr
This film is about the amazing Charles Lloyd, one of the iconic jazz saxophonists of the 20th and 21st centuries, and the effects of the isolation due to the plague (COVID and its variants) which created a period of reflection, revelation and resourcefulness. Filmed over the course of several months using iPhone and Lumix cameras and a portable Zoom recorder, the film provides a rare and intimate insight into the artistry of Charles Lloyd--including his reflections on music, solitude, resistance, social injustice, his ancestry, as well as solo performances.
Tonton Manu (Documentary, 90 min, Brazil/Cameroon/Congo-Brazzaville/DRC/Côte d'Ivoire/France/Guadeloupe/UK/US) Directed by Patrick Puzenat & Thierry Dechilly (about the great Manu Dibango, who brought Soul Makossa to the world and influenced Michael Jackson’s album Thriller. Tonton means uncle in various African languages.)
This film, begun at the dawn of Manu’s eightieth birthday and completed five years later to the day, is a portrait of the great musician Manu Dibango, tireless defender of the mix of cultures that takes us to three continents. Rhythmic by a diversity of exchanges and the convictions of personalities, this sensitive and modest portrait is interspersed with moments of musical grace where the great Manu creates instances of pure emotion from his saxophone.
The Rumba Kings (Documentary, 94 min, Belgium/DRC/France/Morocco/Peru/US) Directed by Alan Brain
This wonderful film celebrates the great Pan African music that came out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a nation that fought slavery and colonial oppression for its freedom. They forged a modern identity with the help of this music. In the 1950s, when the DRC was a Belgian colony, a generation of great Congolese musicians fused traditional African rhythms and music with Afro-Cuban rhythms and music to create the electrifying beat of a new Pan African sound called Congolese rumba. A beat that would carry Congo through its 1960s independence struggle and conquer Pan African nations and communities worldwide with its infectious groove, captivating guitar licks, and smooth vocals.
Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story (Narrative Feature, 90 min, US) Directed by Denise Dowse
The Opening Night film celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Pan African Film Festival on April 9@7:00 pm at the Directors Guild of America
An insightful look into the life and ascent of legendary, iconic, and mystic Gospel Singer Mahalia Jackson. This film focuses on her search to balance her gift, love, and her activism during the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Mahalia broke racial, gender, business, and musical barriers and participated fully in the civil rights movement. She influenced such singers as Aretha Franklin, the Staple Singers, Nina Simone, and many others. She was an advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and was his favorite singer. When Dr. King was depressed and feeling low, wherever he was in the world and no matter what time it was, he would call Mahalia and ask her to sing a song. As a civil rights activist she was conscious of her power in the movement, among the people and with Dr. King. An example of this mystical connection between her, the people and Dr. King is when Dr. King was giving the keynote speech at the 1963 March on Washington in front of 250,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial and millions of people watching on television worldwide. As he soared into his oratory, Mahalia can be heard saying “Martin, tell them about your dream.” He seamlessly soared into his dream which had an electrifying effect on the multitudes who were present and listening from around the world. The speech became the famous, iconic “I Have a Dream Speech,” considered one of the greatest speeches ever given. It is truly an honor for the Pan African Film Festival to have the opportunity to showcase this wonderful film about this iconic sister as the Opening Night film celebrating our 30th Anniversary on April 19@7:00 pm at the Directors Guild of America.
Ayinla (Narrative Feature, 119 min, Nigeria) Directed by Tunde Kelani
Set against the backdrop of a beautiful range of hills and valleys in the southwestern Nigerian countryside, AYINLA is inspired by the life and times of Ayinla Omowura, a popular Yoruba musician in rural Nigeria. Ayinla was the decisive proponent of the important music from the Yoruba people called Apala. As a result of his innovations, creativity, musicianship and spirituality, as well as his ability to speak to the conditions of the people, this music has spread around the world and has produced such superstars as Fela Aníkúlápó Kuti, Chief Sonny Ade, Hugh Masekela, Chief Ebenezer Obey, Bobby Benson, Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka, Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti, Tony Allen and many others. Apala music is so powerful that it can be heard somewhere on the planet Earth in various forms such as fuji music every day. The film captures the story of this musical superstar who comes to a tragic end as his stardom was ascending. Forty years after his death, his legacy and Apala music remains popular and relevant today.