Gasnier & Nezan: Zanzibar Musical Club

This film insists on being a Film. From the very start. This is a story to be watched – it follows  the old mantra: don’t talk about it, show it. No commentary. No formatted tv. And oh yes, they succeed with this moderne and yet old-fashioned Film sentence. In other words it is pure seduction if you agree on the premise, that they, the filmmakers, will not give you a lot of background information to understand a context (you can search/google for that afterwards to read about Zanzibar and the taraab music tradition), they invite you to open your eyes, watch what we the filmmakers saw and heard of wonderful music. If you accept that game, basically if you want a Film like this, you will have a joyful trip, where you meet great characters and artists, who perform in an environment full of frivolity and religion (it is a muslim society) at the same time.

Fishermen, music, the following of a man to his home, a violin player he is, a brick game in the street, street shots, no story but plenty of ambiance, and yet, there are many stories and impressions given through a fabulous camera work, sometimes in tableau-like images, sometimes with a dancing camera to accompany the songs, that are being song by young and old in clubs or in the streets or at more official events. The texts of the songs most often refer to Love, impossible or difficult or just possible love, there is a lot of melancholy expressed, but also more naughty hints are in the texts. It is obvious that the listeners in the film know about the songs and it is wonderful to see the women, who get up to dance. Seduction, music unites, this is an old culture and there are stories connected that need to be remembered.

One who remembers, and who still performs is the almost 100 year old Bi Kidude, who with not many teeth in her mouth is a storyteller who knows so much and wants to convey it. She is filmed at rehearsals and at concerts. Magnificent! My overall impression – To rephrase one of the texts in a song: I am drunk with tenderness.

France & Germany, 2010, 85 & 52 mins. (I saw the long version, in the tv version there is a voice-off)

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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