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. - B.T.
About the Director
Academy Award winner Alex Gibney, known for his gripping, deeply insightful documentaries, is one of the most accomplished nonfiction filmmakers working today. His film, Taxi to the Dark Side, received the 2008 Academy Award for best feature-length documentary. Gibney had previously earned an Academy Award nomination in 2006 for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, which screened at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and received an Independent Spirit Award. We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks screened at the Festival last year.
THE SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL IS ONE PROGRAM OF SUNDANCE INSTITUTE, A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION THAT
DISCOVERS AND SUPPORTS INDEPENDENT FILM AND THEATRE ARTISTS FROM THE U.S. AND AROUND THE WORLD
AND INTRODUCES AUDIENCES TO THEIR NEW WORK.