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Beats of the Heart

The award-winning fourteen part series of music documentaries by Jeremy Marre

These programmes are distributed by Digital Classic (DCD Media/NBD TV) at 151 Wardour Street, London W1F 8WE. Tel: + (44) 207 297 8035. Email:dvdenquiries@digitialclassics.co.uk
Clips can be licensed from RM Associates or directly from Harcourt Films Ltd.

DVDs of ‘Roots Rock Reggae’, ‘Rhythm of Resistance’ and ‘Salsa’ have been re-mastered by Digital Classics, including many extras.

Clips from the series can be licensed from Digital Classics or directly from Harcourt Films.

DVDs of this series are also available (in NTSC American system only) from Shanachie Entertainment at: www.shanachie.com

This series of fourteen one-hour films, made over a period of seven years, explores the dynamic and often controversial role music plays within distinctive societies around the world. In each society, music has a fundamental place. It depicts the history of its people, through politics, myth and folk lore. It defines and defends their cultural identity. It expresses their hopes and aspirations, their losses and loves, their frustrations and their dreams for a better life. This music, sometimes called World Music, is – in the words of Reggae singer Jimmy Cliff – "the cry of the people".

To make these films, director Jeremy Marre travelled across fourteen diverse communities – from the Appalachian mountains of the United States to the islands of the Caribbean, from the stages of Bollywood to the remote deserts of China, and from the Carnivals of Brazil to the segregated churches and hostels of black South Africa.

Each film depicts a moment in time – a pivotal moment in the development of a country’s music – when the greatest artistes achieved fruition and immortalised their songs. Each film expresses its themes through music, dance and the voices of those who perform them. Many performers are heroes, or household names, like Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Gilberto Gil and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Others are unknown, denied access to the media of their developing societies. But their voices are heard over sound-systems, dancehall microphones, song contests and religious rituals, anywhere that people will respond to their music and its message. To all of them, music is an expression of joy, of anger, of hope and of pride.

Music to the people of these societies whether super-star recording artistes, street musicians or ritual dancers is the beat of their hearts, and hence the title of this multi-award-winning series. It takes us to the world’s most exotic and striking locations to hear, with intimacy and raw honesty, ‘music that matters’.

 

 

 

 

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Roots Rock Reggae

 

 

 

The Music of Jamaica
Kingston, Jamaica, 1977: a flashpoint year for reggae music and for its tiny homeland. Police and thieves battle in the street as politicians fight for power – and reggae musicians struggle for people’s souls. This was the first in-depth documentary about reggae music in Jamaica, and the social and political importance of this ‘cry of the people.’

Roots Rock Reggae shows us Jamaican society from the violent struggles of the Trenchtown ghetto to the placid hills behind Kingston, where Rastafarians drum and sing hymns, and everything in between: the sound systems, back-street studios including Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s famous Arc political bandwagons and radio stations. This film captures a moment in time in Jamaica’s history when music became the island’s voice. It immortalises the heroes that went on to become superstars.

Featuring: Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Toots and the Maytals, The Mighty Diamonds, Jacob Miller and Inner Circle, Joe Higgs, The Abysinnians, Sly and Robbie, I Roy and U Roy, Jack Ruby, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry

 

 

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Rhythm of Resistance

 

 

 

The Black Music of South Africa
Filmed secretly and at considerable personal danger to the crew, this is a vision of black South African music as resistance to apartheid. These musicians and their arts were ignored, suppressed and ghettoised.

Rhythm of Resistance investigates the South African recording business, and the place of music in South African society. It reveals Zulu workers performing their secret ritual war dances against whites. It provides intimate interviews and live performances with Mahotella Queens and Aabfana in segregated black townships; with Malombo in the studio; with censors in the radio stations and the mixed-race duo of Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu combatting apartheid with their subtle lyrics. The superstar harmony group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, sing in segregated township churches where they were discovered and first brought to international attention in this film.

Featuring: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, The Mahotella Queens, Philip Tabane, Johnny and Sipho, Malombo, Abafana Baseqhudeni

 

 

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Salsa

 

Latin Music Scene
Salsa is the vibrant dance music of the Latin communities in New York and other cities in of the US as well as the islands of Puerto Rico and Cuba – and this film exposes the roots and meaning of Salsa through the voices of its greatest exponents. Over the past twenty-five years, Salsa has profoundly influenced jazz and pop music and provided a style of walking, talking and dancing for the Latin community.

From the barrios of New York City to the Caribbean, Salsa captures Latin music in all its joy and improvisational brilliance. Celia Cruz is shown in rehearsal; Tito Puente performs with his band in the barrio; Ruben Blades demonstrates how politics and music can work together, while Ray Barretto plays bongos at a barrio wedding. The drumming of the secretive Santeria cult shows the influence of African culture that underpins all Salsa and that gives spiritual power to its message.

Featuring: Ray Baretto, Willie Colon and band, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Ruben Blades, Charlie Palmieri.

 

 

 

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Konkombe

 

Nigerian Music
Nigeria has produced some of the most diverse and exciting musicians to have come to the attention of Western audiences. Stars like King Sunny Ade, Fela Kuti, Sonny Okoson, I. K. Dairo and Ebenezer Obey have helped to make Nigerian music a key component of much popular music. Konkombe is a unique and intimate journey into the Nigerian music scene – that endlessly fascinating world of hypnotic sounds, rhythms and melodies.

The film provides revealing insights into Juju, Afro-Beat, Highlife, Afro-Pop and Lagos street music. It takes us into recording studios, to a party given by the King of Lagos, into the inner sanctum of major stars, even to Fela and his 26 wives hiding from their persecutors. The programme finally travels to the deserts of the north to record – for the first time the musical rituals and spirit ceremonies that underpin this kaleidoscopic culture.

Featuring: Fela Kuti, King Sonny Ade, Sonny Okosun, I. K. Dairo, Ebenezer Obey, the Lijadu Sisters, and the drummers and ritual performers of the North.

 

 

 

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Chase the Devil

 

Religious Music of the Appalachian Mountains
The Southern Appalachians are home to dynamic forms of sacred expression that have helped to shape popular music. At one extreme, the fundamentalist Baptists regard any music as the ‘devils work’ and, at the other end, the Holiness Church centres the hypnotic fervour and intensity of its services on hard driving, highly rhythmic music. ‘God’s Little Elvis’ tells us about passion, trance and possession, and performs to his congregation. This film focuses on the exuberant preaching, singing and rituals of the Holiness Church, including footage of enraptured holiness members ‘speaking in tongues’ and handling poisonous snakes as part of church services.

Chase the Devil also travels the intriguing byways of isolated mountain music, such as the haunting archaic balladry of Dee and Delta Hicks and Nimrod Workman, the old time banjo playing of Virgil Anderson, the fiddle band stylings of the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers, a traditional baptism in a river, where spirit, faith and music come together in a powerful, even frightening, mix.

Featuring: Dee & Delta Hicks, Nimrod Workman, Hazel Dickens, Rev. Akers, Virgil Anderson and God’s Little Elvis.

 

 

 

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The Romany Trail Part One: Gypsy Music into Africa

 

The people popularly known as gypsies are shrouded in mystery: migratory tribes of obscure origin with their own language and a lifestyle that has kept them apart from the mainstream of most of the societies in which they have settled. To the Romany people, music is a life force and a medium to tell of their history and suffering. They are the victims of ignorance and prejudice, who have suffered much, and their experiences are expressed in their music and dance, across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

The Romany Trail Part One takes us on a search for the lost gypsy tribes of Egypt, up the Nile to the ancient town of Luxor in the shadow of the great Pharaoh’s tombs. Along the way, from the markets of Cairo to the temple of Karnak, we meet dancing girls and acrobats, magicians, fortune-tellers and even mystics performing an exorcism. The programme culminates in the rhythms of Flamenco, in the gypsy caves of the Alhambra, where some of Spain’s foremost gypsy families celebrate their history.

 

 

 

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The Romany Trail Part Two: Gypsy Music into Europe

 

Following Part One, this film journeys first to India, to seek out the original gypsy families whose descendants have migrated across the world. In India, we discover families of acrobats, bear trainers, actors and musicians. The film then follows the ancient Romany Trail through Greece, Hungary, the former Yugoslavia and Germany visiting workers’ hostels, schools and churches, as well as the ‘black train’ which only gypsies are permitted to travel on. The horrors of the Holocaust impacted deeply on gypsy lives and music, and this is movingly portrayed in song.

The Romany Trail Part Two is a penetrating, provocative tour of a fabled people’s existence. It reveals the prejudice they still face daily and which they combat with the lyrics and music they have carried and adapted on their long migrations.

Featuring: The music of Django Reinhardt, the ballads of the Holocaust, Hungarian folk musicians and professional restaurant bands, pipers and the greatest names in Gypsy entertainment.

 

 

 

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Number 17 Cotton Mill Shanghai Blues

 

 

Music in China
In the early 1980s, China was emerging from the repressive Cultural Revolution, which attempted to destroy Chinese classical and folk music. Cautiously, musicians, singers, composers and conductors re-emerged, returning from exile and reviving the ancient music of a vast and ethnically diverse country.

This film takes us to that very moment of regeneration, when director Jeremy Marre wove his way across China – from Shanghai to the Gobi desert – battling to avoid the ‘official’ ensembles and discover China’s real musical soul. In Beijing, he was able to film Want Wen Guang, master of the ancient ququin instrument, in a passionate performance any blues guitarist would be proud of; and later we encounter drummer and Taoist priest Mo Zhong, whose hands were broken during the Cultural Revolution in order to keep him from playing. Today, DJs pipe muzak to the workers and the Shanghai music halls echo to the rhythms of the Chinese Tango as China looks to combine past and future.

Featuring: Mo Zhong, Want Wen Guang, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Maoist dance troupes, Taoist temple music and tea-dance tango bands.

 

 

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The Spirit of Samba

 

 

The Black Music of Brazil
The Carnival in Rio has catapulted Brazilian samba to prominence around the world as the ultimate mix of exuberance, sensuality and tradition. The Spirit of Samba, however, shows the full variety of Brazilian music that has profoundly influenced artistes around the world. The Samba and Bossa Nova have impacted widely on the international pop scene, yet these styles represent only a small proportion of the dazzling range of music found in Brazil.

The Spirit of Samba is a challenging tour of that giant country, ranging from risky forays amongst the hillside ghettos of Rio, to a behind-the-scenes look at samba schools in preparation for Carnival. A trip to the culturally rich, African rooted Bahia region reveals a whole other realm of Brazilian culture. And such major Brazilian stars as Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimento and Chico Barque are seen in exclusive interviews and performance, frankly describing the roll of music in the life of Brazil today.

Featuring: Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimento, Chico Barque, Rio Carnival, and the music of the samba schools, streets and studios.

 

 

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Tex-Mex

 

Music of the Texas-Mexican borderlands
Along a thousand miles of the Rio Grande, Mexican and American cultures have mingled to produce Tex-Mex music – the impassioned statement of the border people. Since the Mexican revolution, this music has been the mouthpiece and spirit of the Tex-Mex community. Today, like most border regions, the area is a cultural melting pot, marked by violence and drug running, illegal immigrants and shady business dealings.

Tex-Mex offers a street-level tour of this border world, taking us through cantinas, prisons, festivals and even brothels where Tex-Mex music flourishes. The film travels by night with the Border Patrol and exposes secret video-tapes of the Texas Police arresting Mexican immigrants. Caught in performance and intimate conversation are Lydia Mendoza – one of the last great Corrido singers, whose career stretches back to the 1930s – and Flaco Jimenez, the old-style button accordion player who has injected a Tex-Mex flavour into the music of both Paul Simon and Ry Cooder; and political firebrand Little Joe Hernandez, as well as many other great performers of Norteno, Corrida and other Tex-Mex styles.

Featuring: Lydia Mendoza, Flaco Jimenez, Santiago Jimenez Jr., Little Joe Hernandez,Mariachi bands and Norteno groups.

 

 

 

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There’ll Always be Stars in the Sky

 

 

The Indian Film Music phenomenon
This is Bollywood! The scale of a Hollywood musical with the action of a James Bond thriller and the epic style of a spaghetti Western – all this and more provided for a hundred million viewers a week, for seven hundred and fifty films per year, by casts of thousands, set to a soundtrack of music from all over the world, performed by orchestras of hundreds. There’ll Always be Stars in the Sky takes us behind the scenes to meet star actors and producers, such as Raj Kapoor and singers such as the legendary Lata Mangeshkar, the most prolific recording artiste in the world. We see top musical directors, such as Kalyanji Anandji, at work and in interview, and are invited into recording sessions and onto the sets.

From the teeming Bombay streets, where snake charmers now play film tunes to their serpents and puppeteers adapt folk stories to film plots, this film travels beyond Bollywood, to the deserts of Rajasthan. Here travelling cinemas compete with stage performers have refused to adapt and with the mysterious masked worshippers of Ram Dev - a spiritual core of stylised dance music.

Featuring: Raj Kapoor, Lata Mangeskar, Kalayanji Anandji, and extracts from rare and popular Bombay movies.

 

 

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Shotguns and Accordions

 

Music of the marijuana regions of Colombia
One of World Music’s most exuberant, joyous sounds springs from one of the worst concentrations of organised crime drug trafficking found anywhere.

Shotguns And Accordions ventures into the marijuana growing regions of Colombia, in the midst of all-night dances, cockfights, cocaine processing laboratories and often violent musical competitions, and even into Pablo Escobar’s private back garden – to explore the rise of Vallenato music – the hot, jumpy dance music that mixes accordions, electric bass, percussion and lusty, open-throated vocals.

Vallenato absorbed local traditions, from the vibrantly rhythmic, African-rooted Cumbia music, to the elegant traditional flute music of the various Indian peoples – to become the soundtrack for the lifestyle of gambling and carousing fuelled by drug profits. Whilst high in the Sierra Nevada, the primitive Indian settlement of San Sebastian is one of the few remaining strongholds against Mafia infiltration, where it is still believed that their flute music can destroy evil.

Featuring: top Cumbia musicians, Vallenato stars, Nafer Duran, and the Indian bands of the marijuana fields.

 

 

 

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The Two Faces of Thailand

 

A Musical Portrait
Even today, at the king of Thailands birthday celebrations, massed bands play His Majesty’s own compositions, whilst the King plays his clarinet in the royal recording studio. But the musical underbelly of the country had never been exposed before this film, which - by contrast - captures the cabarets and boxing rings of Thailand, and the true street-level music.

To be a cabaret star is every country girl’s dream, and the film follows aspiring starlets through their local country talent shows, wall-of-death rides, and the grotesquely costumed chorus lines that play to millions. But few women make it to the top: super-stardom is reserved for men like Sulachai, whose glamour and success attracted the guns and bombs of rivals. Meanwhile, at a Wykru ceremony, secret melodies call down the spirits of the dead, providing a musical link between the present and the past, between the mask and the true face of Thailand.

Featuring: The King of Thailand, boxing music, classical Thai dance, a pop recording session and country ‘Luk Tung’ extravaganzas.

 

 

 

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Sukiyaki and Chips

 

The Japanese Sounds of Music
Japanese culture, and especially the music scene, mixes the most ancient traditions of dance performance with futuristic experiments and crass, glitzy pop. Adding to the mix is Japan’s fervent embrace of foreign styles of rock, blues, jazz and even country music.

Sukiyaki and Chips is a portrayal of the hidden layers and startling contradictions of Japanese society, seen through their current music scene. The film moves from the heated world of the teenyboppers to the discipline of a Zen master and Shakuhachi flute player, and the world-famous percussionist Sumire Yoshihara. Along the way, it contrasts music hall variety shows, traditional Noh Theatre performances and a daring new style of erotic theatre. An intimate interview with the pop star Ryuichi Sakamoto reveals more about the Japanese obsession with ‘sound’, and we meet a scientist who claims that Japanese people appreciate music with a different part of the brain from all others.

Featuring: Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sumire Yoshihara, bubble-gum groups, Noh theatre, the Zen masters of flute and Japanese archery, music hall entertainers.

 

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