Lite’s Review Room: DIFF – “Under African Skies”

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Luise Gubb/Provided

Luise Gubb/Provided

The Dallas International Film Festival is in town and we’ve been sending out people to see every movie possible. Our Queen of the Silver Screen Julie Fisk headed out for a Documentary on Paul Simon.

Under African Skies

This is the final weekend you can take part in the 2012 Dallas International Film Festival. Your last chance to see films that otherwise might not enjoy a large theatrical release, like one of my favorites, “Under African Skies.” This is a documentary about the production of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” and its controversial release in 1986.

“Graceland” for many was just a feel good record that introduced us to great South African artists like Ladysmith Black Mambazo, but it stirred a controversy around the world. Paul Simon recorded with South African musicians despite a United Nations cultural boycott on the country. This led many to accuse Paul Simon of ignoring the horrors there and of poaching off the talented musicians he met.

Simon has always insisted that he was welcomed by those artists & that the songs they created were collaborations. Whatever the actual motives were, the response to “Graceland” is legendary and it’s wonderful to see video of Paul Simon first meeting these musicians and their jam sessions. It’s strange then, that the only real downfall of “Under African Skies” is Paul Simon himself, who today seems nothing like the enthusiastic young man we see in the 1980’s.

He still sounds good when he sings, but otherwise seems tired and distant. The South African artists are what save this movie, because the joy that emanates through their music is as infectious today as it was 25 years ago. They are also the reason I’m giving “Under African Skies” a B. You can find the show times and look over the other movies screening this weekend at www.diff2012.dallasfilm.org.


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