Category Archives: New Films

Benda Bilili! Now Showing in American Theaters

Benda Bilili!
The film Benda Bilili! was released in American theaters on September 30. Benda Bilili! received standing ovations when it opened at Cannes in 2010 and was nominated for a César Award for Best Documentary. The film follows an unlikely group of musicians in Kinshasa, capital of the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. The band, Staff Benda Bilili — in English, “look beyond appearances” — is a group of street musicians composed of four paraplegics and three able-bodied men. The film’s release will coincide with the Band’s first ever United States tour.

French film directors Florent de la Tullaye and Renaud Barret encountered the extraordinary group in 2004 as they played their music on homemade instruments in the area around the Kinshasa Zoo and began documenting the band’s struggles to survive, through music, in the volatile city. The result is an exuberant film that follows the band’s journey from the streets to the world’s stages, culminating in the 2009 release of their acclaimed album “Tres Tres Fort.”

The core of the group is four singer/guitarists stricken with polio, who use customized tricycles to get around: Ricky Likabu, the eldest and a co-founding member of the band; Coco Ngambali, the band’s composer and co-founding member with Likabu; Djunana Tanga-Suele, the member most disabled by polio, yet the official choreographer; and Théo Nsituvuidi, a bass player and soprano singer. Joining them is a young and entirely acoustic rhythm section, led by Roger Landu, a teenage prodigy on the satongé, a one-string guitar he designed and built himself out of a tin can.

“‘Benda Bilili!’ is not just a story about a group of musicians who overcome incredible obstacles to bring their music to the world,” said Daniel Battsek, president of National Geographic Films for NGE. “It’s about perseverance, passion and the human spirit, qualities we look for in any story National Geographic tells, be it in print or on the silver screen.”

“Benda Bilili!” was written and directed by Renaud Barret and Florent de la Tullaye. The producers are Yves Chanvillard and Nadim Cheikhrouha of Screenrunner, and Florent de la Tullaye and Renaud Barret of La Belle Kinoise. Co-producers are O.L. Production and Studio 37. The editor is Jean-Christophe Hym. The film premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival Directors Fortnight; it is a Best Documentary nominee for the 2011 César Awards, the national film award of France.

Staff Benda Bilili recordings available:

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The Other Side of the Water: The Journey of a Haitian Rara Band in Brooklyn on DVD

The Other Side of the Water: The Journey of a Haitian Rara Band in Brooklyn, a documentary film by Jeremy Robins and Magali Damas is now available on DVD.

Part carnival, part vodou ceremony, and part grassroots protest, Haitian “Rara” is one of the most breathtaking and contested forms of music in the Americas. The film follows a group of young immigrants who take this ancient music from the hills of Haiti and reinvent it on the streets of Brooklyn.

The documentary tells the story of an unlikely band that comes to speak for a larger community, and a music that manages to create a new meaning of home in the Diaspora.

Rara originally served as a voice of the slaves in their revolt against the French, and as the voice of those struggling against ongoing dictatorships in Haiti. This documentary follows the journey of Djarara – the only sustained rara band in the United States of America – through a hidden New York landscape of vodou temples, underground economies, violent politics, and ground-shaking music.

Combining archival footage and vérité narratives, this documentary focuses on the journey of the poetic visionary Pé Yves. Yves has led a Rara movement in New York since the late ‘80’s, through an era when the media accusing Haitians of bringing AIDS to the United States, to times of civil chaos in Haiti, to police brutality riots in New York – each time re-imagining Rara as a voice for an evolving Diaspora. Yet when a new generation arrives bringing a radically different vision of the music, and the Haitian Christian community attacks Yves for promoting a Vodou ritual, he’s caught in the middle of a struggle for the meaning of Haitian identity.

Ultimately, The Other Side of the Water is about the struggle to merge the
traditional and the modern; the island and the City; the imagined and the
real. The documentary tells the story of one man who learns to hold true to
a vision; a motley band that comes to speak for a larger community; and a
music that manages to create a new meaning of home in the Diaspora.

2010, US & Haiti, 52 and 72 min versions available
http://www.twn.org/catalog/pages/cpage.aspx?rec=1265&card=price

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Email: twn@twn.org
Website: www.twn.org

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Sublime Frequencies to Release Ethno-folk Cinema Classic Staring Into The Sun

Staring into the Sun
Staring into the Sun is the latest ethno-folk cinema classic from Sublime Frequencies. Ethiopia is known to be one of the oldest areas inhabited by humans and presently has over 80 diverse ethnic groups.

In 2009, photographer/filmmaker Olivia Wyatt explored 13 different tribes throughout Ethiopia in this visually stunning film on DVD with accompanying 136 page book of Polaroid photographs and audio CD of field recordings.

Traveling from the northern highlands to the lower Omo Valley via bush taxi, Isuzu cargo trucks, and by any means possible, Wyatt brings together the worlds of Zar spirit possession; Hamer tribal wedding ceremonies; Borena water well polyphonic singing; wild hyena feedings; and bizarre Ethiopian TV segments; presenting an enchanting look at these otherworldly images, stark landscapes and captivating sounds from the horn of Africa.

The featured tribes are captured with an unflinching sense of realism and poetic admiration resulting in a visual and aural feast of the senses. 136 page hardcover photography book with one music CD and one film on DVD. 5 1/2 x 5 1/4 inches, landscape format. 117 color photographs and liner notes by Olivia Wyatt. Sublime Frequencies most elaborate package yet. One time limited edition pressing of 1000 copies.

Staring into the Sun from olivia wyatt on Vimeo.

CD/DVD TRACK/CHAPTER LISTINGS:

1- Konso Tribe “Konso Lyre Song”

2- Habesha 2000 Band “Habesha Traditional Song”

3- Azmari (Masinko Player) ” Masinko Song”

4- Dirashe Tribe “Dirashe Syncopated Panpipes”

5-Gedeo Tribe “Gedeo Vocals”

6-Dirashe Tribe “Dirashe Drum Song”

7-Dorze Tribe “Dorze Song”

8- Mursi Tribe “Mursi Song”

9-Habesha 2000 Band “Habesha Traditional Song 2”

10- Dirashe Tribe “Dirashe Lyre Song”

11- Konso Tribe “Konso Lyre and Percussion Song”

12- GedeoTribe “Gedeo Percussion, Lyre, and Vocal Song”

13- Dirashe Tribe “Dirashe Lyre Dance”

14- Tsemay Tribe “Tsemay Song”

15- Borana Tribe “Borana Singing Wells”

16- Habesha 2000 Band “Habesha Traditional Song 3”

DVD chapter listing:

Chapter 1- Intro

Chapter 2- Borana Singing Wells

Chapter 3- Addis Ababa Traditional Night Club

Chapter 4- Harari Wild Hyena Feeding

Chapter 5 – Tsemay Tribe

Chapter 6- Afar Tribe

Chapter 7- Konso Tribe

Chapter 8 – Arbore Tribe

Chapter 9 – Amhara Tribe

Chapter 10- Dirashe Tribe

Chapter 11- Hookah Night Scenes

Chapter 12 – Zar Spirit Possession Ceremony

Chapter 13- Mursi Tribe

Chapter 14 – Day Dreams

Chapter 15 – Masinko Player

Chapter 16- Banna Tribe

Chapter 17 – Gedeo Tribe

Chapter 18- Hamar Wedding

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National Geographic Entertainment Acquires ‘Benda Bilili’ Documentary for North American Market

Benda Bilili! featuring Staff Benda Bilili
National Geographic Entertainment (NGE) has acquired the North American distribution rights to the film “Benda Bilili!”, a feature documentary that follows an unlikely group of musicians in Kinshasa, capital of the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Due for release in the United States in fall 2011, “Benda Bilili!” will be distributed by National Geographic Cinema Ventures. The documentary premiered at the Cannes Film Festival’s Directors Fortnight, and recently screened at SXSW as part of the “24 Beats Per Second” program

The band, Staff Benda Bilili — in English, “look beyond” — is a group of street musicians composed of four paraplegics and three able-bodied men. French film directors Florent de la Tullaye and Renaud Barret encountered the extraordinary group in 2004 as they played their music on homemade instruments in the area around the Kinshasa Zoo and began documenting the band’s struggles to survive, through music, in the volatile city. The result is an exuberant film that follows the band’s journey from the streets to the world’s stages, culminating in the 2009 release of their acclaimed album “Tres Tres Fort.”

Ricky Likabu, co-founder of Staff Benda Bilili
The core of the group is four singer/guitarists stricken with polio, who use customized tricycles to get around: Ricky Likabu, the eldest and a co-founding member of the band; Coco Ngambali, the band’s composer and co-founding member with Likabu; Djunana Tanga-Suele, the member most disabled by polio, yet the official choreographer; and Théo Nsituvuidi, a bass player and soprano singer. Joining them is a young and entirely acoustic rhythm section, led by Roger Landu, a teenage prodigy on the satongé, a one-string guitar he designed and built himself out of a tin can.

“‘Benda Bilili!’ is not just a story about a group of musicians who overcome incredible obstacles to bring their music to the world,” said Daniel Battsek, president of National Geographic Films for NGE. “It’s about perseverance, passion and the human spirit, qualities we look for in any story National Geographic tells, be it in print or on the silver screen.”

“Benda Bilili!” was written and directed by Renaud Barret and Florent de la Tullaye. The producers are Yves Chanvillard and Nadim Cheikhrouha of Screenrunner, and Florent de la Tullaye and Renaud Barret of La Belle Kinoise. Co-producers are O.L. Production and Studio 37. The editor is Jean-Christophe Hym. The film premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival Directors Fortnight; it is a Best Documentary nominee for the 2011 César Awards, the national film award of France.

Negotiations to acquire the film’s North American distribution rights were handled by Kattie Evans and Tiffany Leclere on behalf of NGE and by Peter Danner on behalf of French sales agent Funny Balloons.

Other upcoming 2011 releases from NGE include Toronto and Telluride film festivals favorite “The First Grader,” the global YouTube film project “Life in a Day,” and “Desert Flower,” set to be released March 18 in select theaters nationwide.

Staff Benda Bilili recordings available:

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Piedmont Blues Musician Boo Hanks Releases Pickin’ Low Cotton Music video

Boo Hanks
Guitarist and singer Boo Hanks has a new video titled Pickin’ Low Cotton. Hanks, a descendant of Abraham Lincoln on his mother’s side, is the greatest Piedmont Blues rediscovery in many years. He sings and plays guitar in the style of the legendary Blind Boy Fuller. At the age of 79, he made his first recording and at 82 he has enjoyed performances around home as well as Lincoln Center and Belgium.

Most people, when they hear me play, they think it’s two guitars, because I play the bass and the other strings at the same time,” says Hanks. “They say, man that’s two guitars, and I say no, me, it’s just me by myself. They say, don’t believe you, it sounds like two guitars to me.”

Recordings available:

Watch the video

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Flamenco Billy Poet Chico Ocaña Releases “30 metros” Music Video

Chico Ocaña
Singer-songwriter Chico Ocaña has a new music video titled “30 metros” from his album “Canciones de Mesa camilla” which was released earlier this year in Spain.

Ocaña’s former band, Mártires del Compás, was a seminal band in southern Spain, combining Flamenco, rock, and Andalusian popular music with uncompromising lyrics. Ocaña said this was a new genre called Flamenco Billy.

On “30 metros”, Ocaña combines creativity, art, happiness, music, humor, and the harsh reality of everyday living.
Continue reading Flamenco Billy Poet Chico Ocaña Releases “30 metros” Music Video

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Deepak Ram and Pt. Anindo Chatterjee Release Live DVD

Deepak Ram & Pandit Anindo Chatterjee video 'Live in California'
Golden Horn has released “Live in California“, a North Indian Classical Music concert DVD by master bansuri player Deepak Ram and Pandit Anindo Chatterjee on tabla.

Those who are new to the bansuri may be drawn to it through an intuition that the instrument is spiritual in nature. More than a cliché, this is in fact the essence of the instrument. Deepak relates the search for the essential question posed by Indian philosophy, “Who am I?,” and notes that archetypal player of the bansuri, Lord Krishna, reminds people that “Sound was the first manifestation of being. Sound was the first manifestation of matter.”

The DVD features the colorful 2006 live concert at the Pacific Cultural Center of Santa Cruz, California and includes informative and insightful interviews of both musicians in a relaxed setting. The background information is much appreciated by connoisseurs of North Indian classical music while at the same time helping to give the uninitiated listener a grounded point of reference.
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New Film About The Iconic Folk Singer Phil Ochs

Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune is a new film by acclaimed filmmaker Kenneth Bowser (Easy Riders, Raging Bulls & Live From New York, SNL in the 70s) about one of the most iconic folk music heroes and political agitators in American history. The U.S. Theatrical Premiere will be January 5th in New York at the IFC Center

As the country continues to engage in foreign wars, Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune is a timely tribute to an unlikely American hero whose music is as relevant today as it was in the 1960s. Ochs, a folk singing legend, was moved by the conviction that he and his music would change the world. He loved his country and fought to honor it, in both song and action. Wielding only a battered guitar, a clear voice and the quiver of his razor sharp songs, he tirelessly fought the good fight for peace and justice throughout his short life.

Phil Ochs rose to fame in the early 1960’s during the height of the folk and protest song movement. His music, with lyrics ripped straight from daily headlines, spoke to those who hoped and fought for change. From protesting the Vietnam War to supporting striking miners, to his attacks on sitting Presidents and mocking the politically disinterested, Ochs pierced the heart of the political establishment with fierce musical satire and righteous analysis.

But by 1968, the mood of the country had changed. With the death of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, and the events of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, all that seemed possible just a few years earlier began to fade. Phil took this hopelessness to heart as if the failings of the movement were his own. His mental and physical health declined as he sank deep into depression and alcoholism. He took his own life in 1976 at the age of 35.

In the film, Joan Baez, Tom Hayden, Pete Seeger, Sean Penn, Peter Yarrow, Christopher Hitchens, Ed Sanders, and others who knew or were inspired by Ochs tell stories of political passions that were equal parts idealism, conviction and fantasy mixed together with a big ego and often wild disorganization.

Filmmaker Ken Bowser specializes in crafting stories about American culture. He wrote, produced and directed NBC’s Emmy nominated network special, Live From New York, The First Five Years of Saturday Night Live. His next feature film is based on Peter Biskind’s bestseller Down & Dirty Pictures.

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Tomáš Kočko Releases Hej koleda Video

Czech world music group Tomáš Kočko & Orchestr has released a new stop motion video titled ‘Hej koleda!‘, written and directed by David Musil.

Tomáš Kočko is a respected singer-songwriter and innovator in the area of traditional Moravian and Slavonic artistic creation, history and religion.

Kočko and his group use guitars, violin, cimbalom and flutes as well as percussion and other traditional folk instruments. They combine Czech folk traditions with elements of rock and jazz.

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America’s Music Legacy: Soul to Be Released on DVD December 7 of 2010

America’s Music Legacy: Soul will be released as part of the “America’s Music Legacy” series on December 7, 2010.

Soul is music that arose out of the black experience in the United States of America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of funky, secular testifying.

The America’s Music Legacy series was recorded 1983-85 and produced by 20TH Century Home Entertainment. It showcases the musical legends performing the songs that continue to attract and entice the whole world, because they truly are the best of all that is the United States.
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