Friday, May 1, 2015

Common Intimacy at MIST Harlem; Many Splendid Reasons Janelle Monae Should Be on Cloud Nine and Beyond

No laughing matter: Album cover for Common's "Nobody's Smiling." Photo from Common Facebook page.

HEADS UP: Welcome to the debut of the Musical Notes column. It is a digest of musical goings-on – regardless of genre – around the world. It will appear once or twice a month on Fridays. Musical Notes could be a concert, interview, article, record release, mini-review, benefit, interesting sighting ... Essentially, news from the world of music. Strike up the band!

YOURS TRULY is about to be introduced to one of the stars of Queen Latifah's basketball film, “Just Wright” (2010).

We are on the roof of New York City's Empire Hotel for the film's afterparty. He is lounging on one of the sofas – chilling out. Introductions are imminent. Suddenly, he stands. Looking me in the eye and extending his hand, he reveals his name. I extend mine and my name. We shake and chat briefly.

That was the night that I met Common. That same night he registered on my radar. A common moniker for an uncommon fellow born Lonnie Rashid Lynn.

That was my up close and personal moment.

“Enjoy an intimate evening w/ me in NYC on May 6th,” Common wrote on his Facebook page a couple of weeks ago.

Earlier that night at the “Just Wright” premiere at the Ziegfeld Theatre, I'd chatted with Common's parents on the red carpet. Nice folks. Boyfriend was raised. And he was raised right. It should not have been a surprise that he would stand to greet someone, especially a lady.

In a few days – next week Wednesday to be exact – New York can get close to Common, too. That is, the part of New York that can fit into the square footage of My Image Studios (MIST) Harlem for the instrumental, spoken word and musical program, “Up Close & Personal With Common Presented by MIST Harlem.”

The multimedia, multipurpose space in Harlem's west 116th street corridor bills itself as a nexus of African Diaspora art, culture, music and cuisine (Madiba Harlem, Madiba Cafe&Lounge).

MIST Harlem is fast gaining a reputation as a go-to spot, not just in Harlem but in New York City at-large, adding its two cents toward the quarter's transformation into a Harlem Renaissance 2.0. MIST Harlem has recently hosted Danny Glover and Lauryn Hill. Comers include John Quinones (12 May) and Bill T. Jones (17 May).

After that introduction, Common was no longer just another rapper-turned-actor. He wasn't just about making coin, I would learn. He had a conscience, too, supporting any number of good causes. Busy work that inspired him to give up anti-gay lyrics. Well done. Now, if he would leave off with nigger/nigga and all of its irksome iterations.

Alas, that ignoble word finds itself on “Nobody's Smiling,” his critically acclaimed latest album (2014). One may be convinced to give him a pass, since it isn't uttered ad nauseum. And because the record is his outcry against the epidemic black male-on-black male crime that has been dogging the streets of his native Chicago.

The newly-minted Academy Award winner is an encourager, too. Not just to those trying to better themselves, but to those who should better themselves. Part of the credit for Serena Williams 2.0 should go to her ex.

Common admonished her to do her best, not squander her prodigious talent and legacy. From his lips to her ears and massive serve, improved footwork and lightning speed at 30-something. (See video above of Common's Academy Award acceptance speech).

One has to expect a song or two from “Nobody's Smiling” to find its way into his performance at MIST Harlem. Incidentally, on the bill with him are Amit Choudhary, Killeenaraye Rodriguez, Doe Wiz et al.

Commoner and Queen on the red carpet in New York for the premiere of "Just Wright." Archive photo.

At this writing, Common is expected in Henrietta, New York (Gene Polisseni Center) on 8 May, Washington, D.C. (Capitol Riverfront Yards Park) on 13 June and on 2 July in New Orleans (Essence Music Festival). No doubt, other dates will be added to his touring schedule.

Sometime today, he posted a gentle reminder on Facebook: “May 6th. Up Close and Personal. Harlem.”

From his lips to your ears.

Visit to learn more about and buy tickets to “Up Close & Personal With Common Presented by MIST Harlem.”
Visit to learn more about My Image Studios (MIST) Harlem.
Visit to learn more about “Nobody's Smiling,” Common's tour schedule and general information.
Visit to learn more about Madiba Harlem.

Can You Blame Janelle Monae If She Suddenly Breaks Out in 'I Feel Good'?

JANELLE Monae is probably over the moon. Riding high. On top of the world.

And why shouldn't she be?

Reason No. 1: She slays in black.

Her rep as a consummate concert performer has her in demand all over the world, just as it was the other night when she was the headliner at the Spring Fling in New York City. (See video above).

Reason No. 2: JM is beautiful.

It's as if the diminutive singer preordained the fine weather for the Friends of the Hudson River inaugural party/fundraiser (Spring Fling) in the Winter Garden of the upmarket shopping, dining and cultural emporium, Brookfield Place.

The jollification was in the name of a good cause: preserving Hudson River Park. (

Reason No. 3: She runs her own record label, Wondaland Art Society.

The Spring Fling deal was sweetened for guests/donors – including JM BFF at the moment Uzoamaka Nwaneka "Uzo" Aduba (“Orange Is the New Black") and Margot Bingham ("Boardwalk Empire") – with eats from Le District. Think of the feedinghole curated by restaurateur Peter Poulakakos as a more intimate, French version of Eataly.

The Eephus effect: Roman GianArthur, Alex Belle and Isis Valentino of St. Beauty; Jidenna; Janelle Monae; Nate Wonder, Chuck Lightening of Deep Cotton. Photo from Janelle Monae Facebook page.

Reason No. 4: Wondaland Arts Society has a new partner in L.A. Reid's Epic Records and a new name, Wondaland Records.

It is shows like the one the multiple Grammy nominee brought to Spring Fling that has contributed to her steady rise toward the top for the last five years or so.

Reason No. 5: And, and, and, on 6 May (Wednesday) “The Eephus” drops. The EP is the first collaboration between Epic and Wondaland. It is a music co-op, or in JM's words, a "collective."

The six-song record features acts from Wondaland's own stable. Aside from JM: St. Beauty (Alex Belle, Roman GianArthur, Isis Valentino), Deep Cotton (Nate Wonder, Chuck Lightening) and Jidenna

Reason No. 6: JM is talented.

A month or so ago, the Kansas City native released a teaser from “The Eephus” titled “Yoga” (with Jidenna). It's a danceable, catchy R&B/hip hop song. Nothing extraordinary. Not her soulfunkadelica.

And "Yoga" is lyrically suggestive in a way that heretofore was not JM's style, it has been much remarked upon. One must concede that "Yoga" does sound like a title straight outta Rihanna/Brittany/Beyonce's songbook.

Consider: Baby, bend over/ let me see you do that yoga (refrain) and You can't police this / so get off my areola. (See video at left).

Reason No. 7: In white, JM is divine.

As they say in baseball, here's to hoping Janelle Monae is the game-changer (the Eephus).

Visit to learn more about “The Eephus,” Janelle Monae's tour schedule and general information; visit to learn more about "Spring Fling."

Friday, April 24, 2015

Day 10 TFF2015: Who Are You? 'In Transit' Has Some Answers; A Self-Appointed Savior / Vigilante in 'Crocodile Gennadiy'

A mother and daughter aboard the Empire Builder in "In Transit." Photo from "In Transit" Facebook page.

She is fresh off of a visit to her daughter in Chicago. Mother and child have not seen each other in more than 40 years ...

Several days past her due date, a young woman is returning to the bosom of her family and outside the orbit of her disagreeable boyfriend, the father of her unborn child. Her baby will meet at the same time "all the people I love." And hate, "because sometimes my family drives me crazy."

A 21-year-old man with dirty fingernails and a clear vision is going to the oil fields to make his fortune – in seven years.

They are among the changing population of passengers aboard an Empire Builder, a series of Amtrak trains that serves the Midwest and Northwest United States, from Chicago in the East to Seattle in the West. Between points, it makes stops in Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon and Wisconsin.

Their brief stories are told in "In Transit" from the late Albert Maysles (his last film) and a series of directors on various legs of the trip: Lynn True, David Usui, Nelson Walker and Ben Wu.

The film shows this evening and tomorrow evening in the last two screenings of its world premiere at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.

On any long trip – whether in the sky or on the ground – it is natural to wonder about one's fellow travelers. Where are they going? Are they running from something? Running to something? What's their story? Who are they?

"In Transit" answers these questions to a degree that is satisfactory, haunting, touching. The aforementioned heroine, now sporting red hair and a tattoo, married young to an abusive man who gave her seven children and little else. She grew tired of the beatings, and decided not to take them anymore.

"If you hit me again, I will shoot you," the woman fresh from that Chicago reunion recalls telling her tormenter. His threats from behind prison walls informed her difficult decision to give up the children for adoption.

Not all of the stories are the stuff of blues or country lyrics. A mother and daughter are snuggled against each other, possibly late at night. The daughter is now in college, and they are wishing each other the best in finding good companionship. At the moment, however, it is them against the world.

A bit of patience is required with "In Transit," for it does not go from 0 to 60 in seven seconds. It opens on a young man who has left Mississippi on his way to his brother and a better life in Seattle. He and a young woman are discussing the importance of change ... Children play ... Other passengers board the train. A viewer may not yet be engaged.

But "In Transit," which garnered an honorable mention at last night's Tribeca awards ceremony, finds the right gear and is on cruise control for the rest of the journey. A series of gripping tales emerges – forming a beautiful mosaic, much like this country – as different as the changing landscape framed in the train's windows.

One of the most tender moments unfolds during a conversation between a younger and older man. They are chatting amiably enough, as folks often do on a long trip. With the miles, however, talk becomes more serious.

"To have love" is what the younger man would change about his life, he discloses tearfully. He was raised without a mother or father. The older man takes up his hands and addresses him in soothing, encouraging tones ...

For the first time in her life she is simply herself. "I really don't want to get off the train," says a woman whose marriage and life are in transition. "It's been more than just a means of travel to get from one place to another." Here Tawna is not reduced to "somebody's label" – daughter, wife, mother ...

"I love the plains ... My mother's native; my dad's white," says a man whose relationship is also in critical condition and may have expired by the time he returns home. "But my heart and soul ... It's where I hunt. It's where my people are. It's where my family lives. There is something very therapeutic about getting back to the plains. It's the perfect place to clear a person's head" ...

What is the dream job of this Rugby, North Dakota native? As a youngster, he spied a passing train and wondered where all of those people were going? This is the train conductor's dream job. "Much to the ridicule from my classmates and even some ridicule from my family, this is the only job I ever wanted."

All aboard!

Also showing this evening is Crocodile Gennadiy. The documentary from Steve Hoover, in its world premiere, follows Gennadiy Mokhnenko over a 10-year-period. (See video above).

One of the pastor’s supreme callings is saving Ukrainian youth from streets meaner than ever after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

He has many supporters; he has many detractors.

Films/events on today's TFF2015 schedule: ”Shorts: Interference,” “Some Came Running,” “Live From New York!,” “Monty Python and The Holy Grail,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “Aloft,” “Slow West,” “Most Likely to Succeed,” “Down in the Valley,” “Tribeca Talks Directors Series: Brad Bird and Janeane Garofalo,” “The Ethics of Accuracy,” “Hyena,” “All Eyes and Ears,” “Far From Men,” “Backtrack,” “Cartel Land,” “Lucifer,” “Shorts: NY - Double Espresso,” “Tenured,” “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon” and “Cronies.”

Visit to learn more about it and the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Day 9 TFF2015: Parsing the Words of 'Lucifer's' Gust Van den Berghe Over Liquid Courage

Gust Van den Berghe (left) and actors on location in Mexico on the set of "Lucifer." Photo from "Lucifer" Facebook page.

"I hope that I am not boring you with all of this."

Not at all. Yours Truly is utterly fascinated by the ideas spewing forth from "Lucifer" director Gust Van den Berghe during our chat over a beer and sparkling wine in the Lincoln Black Label Filmmaker Lounge at Spring Studios.

His film, a version of the biblical story of Lucifer that follows the angel during a layover in a heavenly Mexican village en route to Hell, is having its U.S. premiere at the 2015 Tribeca Screen Festival. The last two of its four screenings are this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon.

Incidentally, GVdB emphatically states that his film – third in a trilogy – is meant to be seen "in the cinema. I make films for the cinema."

Based on the work of the same name by Dutch playwright and poet Joost van den Vondel, "Lucifer" has the distinction of being the first film to be shot using Tondoscope ( Essentially, it means it is filmed through a circle instead of a rectangle. From the perspective of the viewer, images on the big screen appear round and have a painterly quality, that of a daguerreotype.

The images – as in "Lucifer" – are at once aloof and extremely intimate. Otherworldy; finite; without horizons. This aspect would be lost on a small screen, particularly a mobile device. (See video below, explaining how the Tondoscope process was developed for "Lucifer").

"I wanted to bring new materials to old ideas," he says by way of explanation for his use of Tondoscope. Old paintings of paradise lost that captured subjects in the round also informed the use of this technique.

Meanwhile, one is held in thrall by the Flemish director's worldviews – part-intellectual, part-iconoclast, a pinch of existentialism. Consider: he discloses that "I don't think" when I make films. Pressed to expound, he continues, "It's like a negative – a blank – and I fill it in. When you make a mark with your shoe, you were there and this is what you see. You don't think about it. You do it and it just is."

Understand? How about this one: "We are immigrants in life – not like the way one usually thinks about immigrants, with borders. But we are in a place in time and these are our experiences without confines."

Of "Lucifer," he says "people can think whatever they wish. It is done and I am working on two other films." And then when raised brows confront him, "I am proud of what I have created, and I do not say that to be arrogant."

Humility is apparent. GVdB is a filmmaker (and a writer and the son of a writer). He loves the medium. He makes film for the sheer pleasure and artistic expression it permits, a way of communicating ideals, horrors, the human condition. Certainly, not for monetary gain. "Lucifer" does not yet have a distributor, and he has no idea where his team is in the process.

"I leave that to the salespeople. If I find a distributor and the film makes money, that is good. But it doesn't matter if it does not."

Neither do awards matter. "Lucifer" has won one. What? Where? "It does not matter; it is of no consequence," he says dismissively

All awards matter, one has to counter. He seems to concede the point, revealing that "Lucifer" took the Grand Prix at the International Film Festival of Tallinn Black Nights (Estonia.) On Friday (24 April), he journeys to Cancun, Mexico for the Riviera Maya Film Festival where "Lucifer" is entered.

"For me, being accepted to a film festival is like a reward," he is insisting without a trace of guile. "I don't enter film festivals to win awards."

Yet, GVdB is gratified when he does, no?


Films/events on today's TFF2015 schedule: "Tribeca Talks: Snap It, Vine It, Tube It,” “Hyena,” “Come Down Molly,” “Slow Learners,” “The Overnight,” “The Diplomat,” “Man Up,” “Hungry Hearts,” “Anesthesia,” “Tumbledown,” “Shorts: NY – Daily Grind,” “Sunrise,” “The Birth of Sake,” “El Cinco,” “We Are Young. We Are Strong,” “Transfatty Lives,” “Good Kill,” “Democrats,” “A Faster Horse,” “Stung” and “Shorts: Family Dynamics” (See video above of “The Arrest”).

Visit to learn more about it and the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Day 8 TFF2015: Earth Exacts Sweet, Beautiful Revenge, One Surmises, in 'Wrapped'

Something has a stranglehold on New York City in "Wrapped." Photo from "Wrapped" Facebook page.

IT is difficult to get a straight answer out of Falko Paeper about what “Wrapped” is about as we are jawing at Spring Studios on Saturday evening, Day 4 of the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.

In the Shorts: NY - Double Espresso section of the festival, the part-digital animation film is screening tonight, as well as Friday through Sunday (24-26 April) in its New York premiere. (See video below).

The young Berlin, Germany native is uttering something along the lines of “It’s set in New York” and “You have to see it.”

And so do you, Dear Reader, for “Wrapped” is a piece of impressionist art. You and your companion may be watching this film and come away with wholly different interpretations of what you have witnessed. It is apt that one of its four screenings is today, the 45th Earth Day. (

One inference that can be drawn from “Wrapped” — a clever, imaginative, visually stunning work — is that it ponders Earth from the perspective of a dying rat.

Possibly a casualty of an automobile crash, the creature remembers life before the monstrosity that is the concrete jungle of New York City or any metropolis teeming with people, vehicles and noise. First, the memories of a better time evolve slowly, then as the protagonist breathes its last, life whizzes by at lightning speed.

In hindsight, it becomes clear from the tête-à-tête with FP why three directors were a key ingredient in a four-minute film. At the time, however, this inquiring mind could not comprehend that the time-lapse photography that made whizzing life possible would require a director unto itself.

"Wrapped" has a director for its digital, action and time-lapse photography sequences, respectively. Aside from FP, a web designer who handled the digital piece, a director's credit goes to Roman Kaelin and Florian Wittmann. The three were film school mates. "Wrapped" is their thesis project.

One film, three simultaneous directors ... hmmm. "We worked well together," FP discloses to a skeptic. "This is our third film."

Yet another inference that can be taken from the award-winning film is that Earth is striking back. Taking vengeance because its organic matter — grass, trees, flowers — has been destroyed. In its place concrete, steel and the aforesaid pollutants.

Its revenge is swift and ferocious — a big bang — with a doomsday soundtrack.

In “Wrapped,” it is a wonderful, beautiful thing.

Films/events on today's TFF2015 schedule: "Tribeca Talks Directors Series: Ava Duvernay,” “Angry Sky,” “Misery Loves Comedy,” “Anesthesia,” “Maggie,” “Apple Store Panel: Misery Loves Comedy,” “Backtrack,” “A Courtship,” “Ashby,” “Man Up,” “Shorts: NY - Espresso,” “Dirty Weekend,” “Bare,” “Good Kill,” “Shorts: Home Improvement,” “Stranded in Canton,” “Slow West,” “Sleeping With Other People,” “Peggy Guggenheim - Art Addict,” “Cronies” and “Being 14.” (See video above).

Visit to learn more about it and the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Day 7 TFF2015: Casting a Candid Spotlight on 'Roseanne for President!; Kissing Friendship Goodbye in 'The Kiss?'

Roseanne Barr for president campaign button. Photo from Roseanne for President! Facebook page.

AMONG her many accomplishments, Roseanne Barr has been a candidate for the presidency of the United States.

Surprisingly, many are unawares, but in 2012 the comedian-mogul ran for the highest office in the land against incumbent Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Dr. Jill Stein and others.

Eric Weinrib chronicles this chapter in her life in the documentary “Roseanne for President!.” It continues its world premiere run at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival this afternoon and Saturday (25 April.)

Meanwhile, friendships are fragile things. They are difficult to build, and maintaining them can be as tricky as keeping a house of cards from collapsing.

Why then, is human nature such that we too often endanger these very special bonds. For instance, if one has a perfectly good friendship, is it not madness to burden it with a complication such as a romantic kiss – even if it is only for research?

Of course, it is. Yet, Daniel (Roberto Cavazos) and Ale (Ana Gonzalez Bello) go down this slippery slope in “The Kiss” (“El Beso”). The film by Carlos G. Davila is also on the Tribeca schedule today and Saturday in its U.S. premiere.

During an impromptu chat in the Lincoln Black Label Filmmaker Lounge, at the impressive new Spring Studios CGD discloses that he was attracted to the project because of its universal theme. In fact, co-producer and star RC asked him to help produce the film. “I told him that I would produce it if he would let me direct.”

The Monterrey, Mexico native is also an architect. Alas, his heart was elsewhere. He'd go on to study film – "I said it was now or never" – and has directed commercials, music videos and TV shows. “There are many similarities between architecture and filmmaking,” he says.

Of course, he prefers film, but which is the less difficult of these tough trades? Without skipping a beat: “Architecture is easier and it's easier to make money.”

"The Kiss" of death between Daniel (Roberto Cavazos) and Ale (Ana Gonzalez Bello)? Photo from "The Kiss" Facebook page.

“The Kiss,” CGD's filmmaker debut, has been well-received around the world, garnering a Best Short Film award at the Monterrey International Film Festival and as Best Film and Best Audience Film at the Wimbledon International Short Film Festival

This delightful amuse bouche is slapstick funny at times as Daniel and Ale try to perfect the kiss. Ana – acting as a kinder, but no less exacting Henry Higgins – gives instant critiques and makes arch observations. “... passion … not velocity.” / “top notes of peppermint.”

How the players keep a straight face during these proceedings is a testament to their acting abilities. Cocooned in CGD's hovering, in-your-face lens, their reactions and interactions are utterly authentic.

But when they finally seal the deal with the perfect kiss ...

“I had a similar experience,” CGD confides, “and after it the relationship was weird.”

Let this be a lesson to us all.

Films/events on today's TFF2015 schedule: "Tribeca Talks Master Class: Dolby Institute The Sound of the Coens," "The Armor of Light," “Far From Men,” “Steak (R)Evolution,” “Shorts: Gallery Opening,” “Roseanne for President,” “Orion: The Man Who Would Be King,” “The Driftless Area,” “Sunrise,” “Stranded in Canton,” “Among the Believers,” “Havana Motor Club,” “All Eyes and Ears,” “Song of Lahore,” “Shorts: Tightrope,” “On the Town,” “Apple Store Panel: Far From Men,” “Sworn Virgin,” “The Overnight,” “Havana Motor Club.” and “Lucifer.” (See video above).

Visit to learn more about it and the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Day 6 TFF2015, Murder Is on the Menu in 'Nostradamus'

Ethan Hawke works remotely in "Good Kill." Photo courtesy of IFM Films.

So often in thrillers, characters speak in inanities. Albeit, harmless conversation that is a harbinger of bad things to come

Such is the case with Thomas Ikimi's “Nostradamus.”

The short film, ensconced in the “Shorts: Interference" section, is having its world premiere at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival. Screenings continue tonight, as well as Friday and Satruday (24 and 25 April).

At a dreary diner in the middle of a California nowhere, drone pilot Harry Fisher (Austin Nichols) and Silas (Amy Sloan), a woman he has just met, are chatting amiably enough, until Silas brings him to the point: He has to kill the man he has come to meet or she is going to blow up the whole friggin’ diner, the state and possibly the world.

In the director's note, TI says “Nostradamus” is inspired by “Strangers on a Train.” Whether the reference is to Hitchcock's film or its source material, the novel by Patricia Highsmith, it matters not. Essentially, murder most foul will happen. In “Nostradamus,” there is actually a twist: You will murder one and I will not murder many.

As has been noted (, there are numerous films in TFF2015 that might run as companion pieces because of their subject matter. In this case, “Good Kill,” would be a natural complement to “Nostradamus." The Andrew Niccol film stars Ethan Hawke as a put-upon drone pilot who does his killer job from a Nevada trailer. It's having its U.S. premiere and screenings continue Wednesday and Thursday, 22 and 23 April, respectively.

Meanwhile in “Nostradamus,” Harry and Silas are very attractive people – with all-American looks and appeal – the kind most people would welcome as a neighbor. However, they are among the most dangerous people on earth – the last any should wish to live near.

As it becomes clear in “Nostradamus” what is at stake, the faces of AN and AS take on increasingly disturbing expressions, registering doom minute by minute. In the wake of this clear and present danger, Harry maintains a calm exterior and a clear mind, owing to years of military training.

Similarly, Silas — military, herself — is as serene as you please, munching on bacon as if she has not just threatened Armageddon. Look closely and see fleeting light from TI’s camera capture a glint of insanity about her latter expressions.

The tension is real and palpable, pushing one to the edge of his seat as befits any good thriller. The surprise ending is gravy.

TI and co-screenwriter Joshua Banta deliver spare and engaging dialogue well-suited to the subject matter.

Films/events on today's TFF2015 schedule: ”Man Up,” "Fastball,” “Ashby,” “Wondrous Boccaccio,” “Shorts: Interference,” “The Wolfpack,” “Tribeca Talks: David Rockwell & Danny Meyer, How Does a Space Tell a Story” “Bad Hurt,” “Being 14, “Dixieland,” “Peggy Guggenheim - Art Addict,” “Havana Motor Club” and ”All Eyes and Ears."

Visit to learn more about it and the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Day 5 TFF2015: Listen to Sound of Tabla, Flute and Other Instruments 'Song of Lahore'

The Sachal Jazz Ensemble and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in "Song of Lahore." Photo by Frank Stewart.

THE sound of the tabla drum is once again – albeit quietly – resounding in the former cultural mecca of Lahore, Pakistan.

In “Song of Lahore,” Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken, chronicle a group of master musicians who started to play again, nearly 30 years after a draconian form of Islam was imposed on all of Pakistan.

In this new world order, music was frowned upon. War, ethnic divisions and corruption also muted the sounds of the tabla, flute, violin and other instruments.

The film continues its world premiere run at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival this evening. (Other screenings are scheduled for 21 April and 23 April).

Fast forward to 2004 when Izzat Majeed founded Sachal Studios and the artists – under pain of severe censure – would be coaxed into picking up their instruments, producing music combining traditional music with Western forms, including jazz.

This engaging sound caught the attention of Wynton Marsalis, among others outside of Pakistan, and an invitation to the Sachal Jazz Ensemble to perform in New York with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Part master class and subversive treatise, “Song of Lahore” reveals a triumph and a travesty: the Sachal Jazz Ensemble should take a bow, but few in Pakistan are aware that the musicians are making this beautiful, exotic-sounding music. One can only hope that this film and other international appearances will help change this.

Yet, reason for celebration is that these rebels are defying edicts and allowing long-dormant art reflourish.

Films/events on today's TFF2015 schedule: "Shut Up and Drive," "Roseanne for President," “Very Semi-Serious,” “Five Star,” “A Ballerina's Tale,” “Good Kill,” “Tribeca Talks Script & Screen Hosted by Barnes and Noble: This Is the Real Life” “In Transit,” “Man Up, “Bare,” “Virgin Mountain,” “Havana Motor Club” and "Toto and His Sisters." (See video above).

Visit to learn more about it and the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.
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