Music and Film Festival: FINDING FELANigeria | 2013 | 119 Mins | Not Rated | Documentary
Fela Kuti, Yeni Kuti, Femi Kuti
No individual better embodies African music of the 1970s and ’80s—and its pivotal role in postcolonial political activism—than Fela Kuti. After quickly taking his native Nigeria by storm, the pioneering musician’s confrontational Afrobeat sound soon spread throughout the continent and beyond, even as it made determined enemies of the repressive Nigerian military regime. As a result of continued persecution, increasingly unorthodox behavior, and, eventually, complications due to HIV, Kuti’s final years saw his musical output and influence wane.
Within the past decade, a resurgence of interest in his work has posthumously repopularized Kuti, culminating in the massively successful Broadway show FELA!, written by Jim Lewis and directed by Tony Award winner Bill T. Jones. Academy Award–winning director Alex Gibney interweaves the show’s skillful staging with a treasure trove of period interviews and hypnotic performances to recapture the essence of the man, his music, and his enduring cultural and political relevance.
"Gibney obviously decided, when in doubt cut to some music, which is a winning strategy. Whether it is recorded in Kuti's storied club, the Shrine, or in a Broadway theater, the collected performances are enormously entertaining." -Joe Bendel