The Coastside Film Society proudly presents tonight a documentary about Paul Simon’s return to South Africa for the 25th anniversary tour celebrating the birth of his Grammy-winning 1986 album of the year, Graceland.
The album was both a hit and a controversial cultural phenomenon. It teamed Simon, a white American musical legend, with a wonderful group of South African musicians to create an exciting work of fusion.
Some felt that the album exploited the work of his African colleagues; others argued it paid homage to the unique African song styles it borrowed from, and in doing so, opened up African music to a much wider world audience. More controversial yet was the fact that Simon had openly defied a U.N. cultural boycott by travelling and recording music in a South Africa that was still in the grips of apartheid oppression.
The documentary celebrates the roots of the music, showing countless clips of Simon jamming with his African collaborators, including Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Okeyerama Asante and Ray Phiri — both in 1986 and during the 2011 tour. It also features recent interviews with Dali Tambo of Artists Against Apartheid, Paul McCartney, David Byrne and Peter Gabriel, who ruminate on the influence that Graceland had on their lives and their work.
Under African Skies (108 mins)
“Doubly satisfying: We get not only a trenchant political drama but a bang-up concert film as well.” — Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
“A cultural lightning bolt that soars on its music and an unshakable belief in the transcendence of art.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone Magazine
More info at: www.hmbfilm.org