Thursday, 19 July 2012

A Soundtrack for a Revolution

 Ain't let nobody turn me around
'We were ordinary people doing extraordinary things' says civil rights activist Julian Bond and it somehow perfectly sums up the spirit of this fantastic documentary that retraces the story of the U.S.Civil Rights Movement.Through the testimonies of the some of the Movement's main voices and participants, this heartfelt and moving documentary takes us back to an era that is hard, if not impossible, to imagine;such was the level of discrimination for African-Americans at that time.Thankfully, the uncompromising fight for freedom and equality showed by people who were not prepared to put up any longer with such barbarism and brutality inflicted by White supremacists serves -or should serve- as inspiration for present and future generations.
To my delight, and to that of music lovers in general, the documentary is greatly enhanced by absolutely cracking performances by artists such as The Roots, The Blind Boys of Alabama and John Legend whose cover versions of some of the most powerful and symbolic songs associated to the Movement provide unforgettable moments of pride and passion for a cause that shaped the United States' recent history.
Among the wealth of information and worthwhile projects we read about daily, I can't quite remember how I found out abut this brilliant documentary but I'm glad I did and that I dug further and managed to get a copy, one that I will cherish for years to come.Which side are you on?

Friday, 6 July 2012

In prison my whole life

No happy birthdays in death row

A few years ago I published this review ( about a documentary that deserves to be known and discussed as widely as possible.I believe that is still as relevant as it was in 2007, so here it goes:

This is Mumia Abu Jamal… from Death Row; this short yet startling introduction serves, in case we had forgotten, as a reminder of the situation Mumia is and has been for the last 27 years.Mumia Abu Jamal was a journalist and Black Panther militant in Philadelphia, US, at the time of his arrest for the murder of a police officer.

Thanks largely to his regular broadcasts from death row, his books and the high-profile campaigns run on his behalf throughout the world, Abu Jammal remains the best known death row prisoner in the U.S. 
On the other hand,Marc Evans is, in his own words,your typical white middle class young American.

So not much in common between these two men then, you may think, except for the fact that, as it happens, Mumia was arrested on the very same day Marc was born, 9 December 1981.So Marc, who since his early childhood has been reminded of this fact by his mum (also featured in the film),sets out to find out by himself what’s behind what for many people is a flagrant example of injustice and racism.

Mumia was accused of murdering a police officer, Daniel Faulkner, on that fateful day and swiftly condemned to death; as the film evidences, the racial tensions in Philadelphia since the 60’s had been very present and racism was widespread. An unfair trial based on racial prejudice and confusing evidence is the basis for Mumia’s lawyers demands for a re-trail; as the documentary uncovers, there is fresh evidence that supports Mumia’s legal representatives and worldwide human rights activists call for a new hearing.The documentary features familiar faces such as Noam Chomsky and Alice Walker, whose quiet yet powerful denunciation of a racist system that condemned Mumia and many others, produces one of the highlights of the film.

There is plenty of evidence in the film that clearly, at the very least, should convince any un-biased mind of the difficulties and irregularities of the case presented against Mumia, not least because for the first time and after many years in fearful silence, Mumia’s brother, also present in the scene that day, is prepared to give evidence.Clearly, Evans’ pursuit has an objective: to demonstrate all of the above and help gather support for what he (and many more people) believes is a legitimate and urgent cause.

His no-nonsensical approach serves, ultimately, to this purpose.
Everyone who believes and fights for human rights should be grateful to Marc Evans for enlightening us and for giving us this rare example of cinema and compromise without being lectured.
However, and despite all the efforts, we must not forget that Mumia’s life still hangs on the balance as his legal struggle remains uncertain.
For more information on Mumia’s case and legal updates please visit: