Film and music can make for an interesting combination. Two wonderful music documentaries were screened this past weekend, at the Jerusalem International Film Festival, providing the audience with the opportunity to experience renowned talent while also opening a window onto unique chapters of cultural history.
Iraq'n'Roll, directed by Gili Gaon, tells the story of Saleh and Daud Al-Kuwaity through a project undertaken by Daud’s grandson, Dudu Tassa. The viewer is invited to participate in Tassa’s journey as he discovers his roots and struggles while accepting them and incorporating them into his artistic expression. He has finally reached the position in his career where he can allow himself this privilege, he says in the film.
The Al-Kuwaity brothers were famous, even glorious, musicians in Iraq during the 1940s and 1950s. However, their glory comes to an abrupt end upon their immigration to Israel. Combining interviews with family members and musicians alongside live concert footage, the filmmaker exposes the viewer to the deep shame and displacement experienced by Iraqi Jews upon their immigration to Israel. While the third generation, represented by Tassa, can restore some of the lost pride, the second generation, represented by Tassa’s mother and her sisters, still carries the bitter weight of the first generation. Had their father known what it would be like to live in Israel he would not have come, they say.
Watch for Iraq’n’Roll which will be screened on Israeli TV (Channel Two) on July 24th at 11pm! The film (52 minutes) is distributed by Ruth Diskin Films.
Mama Africa, a film directed by Mika Kaurismaki, is a German-Finnish-South African co-production about the life and art of Miriam Makeba, who embodies the true spirit of freedom. The deep healing power of her voice, embedding a political message in every sound (or click), is an honest inspiration to humanity. Makeba is lured onto the American stage by Harry Belafonte, and she quickly becomes an international star. But she pays a painful price; the price of forced exile. Returning home to South Africa becomes her life dream. Returning to a better home becomes her life mission.
The legacies of these artists live on in these films.