Thursday, May 27, 2004

Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony

Amandla! A documentary unearths the story of an extraordinary unsung hero, composer and activist Vuyisile Mini.

The dancing President in Amandla! Posted by Hello

This 90 minute documentary film celebrates the role of music and song in the struggle for liberation in South Africa. An eight year labour of love, the HBO/SABC backed documentary AMANDLA!, was co-produced with New York based Kwela Productions.

AMANDLA! won two awards at the Sundance Festival - the Freedom of Expression Award and the Audience Award.

Winner of the Audience Award and Freedom of Expression Award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, AMANDLA! tells the story of black South African freedom music and reveals the central role it played in the long battle against apartheid.
The power of song to communicate, motivate, console, unite and, ultimately, beget change: that ideal, gloriously realised, lies at the heart of director Lee Hirsch's inspiring feature film documentary AMANDLA! A REVOLUTION IN FOUR-PART HARMONY.

The first film to specifically consider the music that sustained and galvanised black South Africans for more than 40 years, AMANDLA!'s focus is on the struggle's spiritual dimension, as articulated and embodied in song. It is unlike any other film yet made on the subject of apartheid, and an electrically expressive portrait of South African life then and now.

In form as well as content, AMANDLA! breaks new ground. Beginning with its dynamic opening title sequence, AMANDLA! harnesses the visual and sonic power of cinema to create a powerfully emotional viewing experience. Vivid, colour-drenched cinematography flows like song, complementing an innovative narrative that combines original footage, breathtaking musical numbers, archive and haunting re-enactments to celebrate the resilience of the human spirit throughout the decades-long struggle for freedom in South Africa. Nine years in the making, the HBO/SABC backed AMANDLA! was shot in South Africa, co-produced by South African-based Bomb and the New York-based Kwela Productions. It features interviews with a diverse range of individuals, who candidly share their experiences of struggle and song.

The film brings dozens of freedom songs to the screen, drawing upon original recordings and thrilling, sometimes impromptu live performances by celebrated South African musicians and non-professionals alike. Threaded throughout the film, these rich and beautiful anthems take viewers on an extraordinary journey through the spiritual and physical reality of life under apartheid.

"Song is what keeps us alive." - Lindiwe Zulu (Freedom Fighter)

"one of the best films so far this year at Sundance …" - The New York Times

" … from despair to victory, the South African Documentary has the widest range of emotion of any film at this year's Sundance …" - Roger Ebert

Read more on the making of Amandla!


Blogger Wessel said...

Watching Amandla! is an emotional experience. The director certainly has captured some of the passion, and energy of the time. The sound - so central to the theme is very good - the camera work colourful, with the occasional modern flourish a la MTV.

The archive footage Director Lee Hirch obtained was very good and well used, and the way it was edited - to show the tense confrontaion between thousands of protestors and nervous police - had one on the edge of your seat.

Although some of the lyrics is are very violent, they are delivered in such a beautiful way that it disarms. The overarching feeling that Hirst creates is a positive one. He creates the a that a country that has such evocative and beautiful protest music, would be OK in the end.

Even with the inevitable simplifying - "Apartheid starting in 1948" in the opening credits for example, there is little to find fault with this documentary.

6:40 AM  

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