In my opinion, the Opera House is the most elegant and artfully traditional setting that we have to offer for the festival, and it’s during events like tonight, while projecting a window into powerful cultural perspective, that she’s in her finest form. Immaculately beautiful from the lighting to seating, she sets the stage for a sentimental revisit through the torrid political atmosphere Paul Simon navigated while making “Graceland.” The lively and engaging audience packed out for the screening, responding to the emotional undulations with laughter, tears, cheers, foot stomping, and clapping in rhythm through the end credits. It’s safe to say that the post-film impressions reared unanimous endorsement.
To reverberate the thoughts of an anonymous journalist, Joe Berlinger makes the very best documentaries, and thats a sentiment that after seeing Under African Skies is pretty tough to argue with. Powerful, thought-provoking, and insightful Berlinger simultaneously takes the audience on a vibrant journey through the music and the historically unique fallout that resulted from an African-influenced album in the time of Apartheid. The film was comfortably paced and both visually and aurally superb, with Simon himself mixing the sound. The project is well timed also, especially for Simon who last year released a twenty-fifth anniversary edition of the album; with the audience’s benefit of twenty-six years of historical perspective, the whole story takes on a new meaning and degree of significance, even for the players themselves. The film is able to nostalgically pump from the excitement of the rekindled synergy between them musically, and this helps identify with what the whole experience meant to them personally- a pretty cool accompaniment.
Im not surprised that Under African Skies received the attention it did from Sundance, and I would keep my eyes open for an opportunity to get a gander at it in the near future.