Directed by Joe Berlinger
Edited by Joshua Pearson. Cinematography by Bob Richman.
South Africa, USA, 2012. In English. 101mins.
Co-Sponsored by The David R. Stern Fund of the Common Counsel Foundation and Carl and Gay Grunfeld.
Considered by many to be one of the greatest albums ever produced and certainly among the most influential, Paul Simon’s Graceland is in a category unto itself. What many might not know or remember is just how controversialthe album was at the time it was made. In spite of its groundbreaking successin the melding of American and South African musical styles, Gracelandgenerated intense political debate. Before going to South Africa, Simon was warned by Harry Belafonte to clear his visit with the African National Congress but chose not to listen. A price was paid when he came under fire from antiapartheid activists, who accused him of violating the United Nations’ cultural boycott of South Africa. For the 25th anniversary of Graceland’s release, Simon returns to South Africa for a reunion concert that not only relates the album’s tumultuous beginnings, but also revels in the artistic collaborations so integral to its creation. It is absolutely thrilling to watch how these songs were assembled and the studio footage makes it clear how much he drew upon his hired musicians’ creativity. Veteran documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger’s Under African Skies is a celebratory account of a great artistic achievement as well as an insightful reflection on the boundaries of art and politics. SxSW Audience Award. Official Selection, 2012 Sundance Film Festival.