Full Frame Film Fest 2011 Review - "Take Me Away Fast"

by Tambay A. Obenson
April 21, 2011 8:15 AM
6 Comments
  • |

The 2011 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival ended last week Sunday. On the scene at the festival's North Carolina location was Shadow And Act woman-about-town, Ms Alece Oxendine.

While there, she saw a film called Take Me Away Fast, a title I profiled on the old S&A site in March, and which I expressed some concerns about, given the subject matter. In short, the film follows successful German DJ Frank Gossner on his journeys through West Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, and Benin, specifically) in search of rare 1970s funk and Afrobeat records, which he buys, and takes these these cultural artifacts back to Germany to play for his European and American audiences.

I haven't seen the film yet, but, thankfully, Alece has, and she confirms some of my initial concerns in her review which follows below:


A couple weeks back, Tambay posted an entry profiling Take Me Away Fast and I had the chance to see it at Full Frame.

If you’re not familiar with Full Frame, it is a documentary film festival that premieres major documentaries from around the world and it just so happens to be in my hometown of Durham, NC :)

Take Me Away Fast screened after another short documentary about music called Sound Underground, a moving essay about musical performers on subway platforms. There are several other documentaries about these performers (one as recent as 2007 and with a suspiciously similar name) but none shot as beautiful as this one. The documentary captured these performers at their best-clean, perfect pitched and a sound that could as easily been produced in a studio (and probably was).

Sound Underground got up close and personal with the performers while still giving some distance; we do not know where they come from or why they perform, we just hear them and life moves on. This is evident with the constant passing of the trains that constantly interrupt the performances to remind us that we are on a subway platform and not in a symphony hall.

To New Yorkers who are familiar with, and sometimes annoyed with, the sounds of the underground, this piece attempts to romanticize these performers when we just tune them out. But there is always that one performer who we actually take the time to listen because they’re that good.

For me, in this film it was the Trombone Man’s solo; just sublime! If this film comes your way, it’s definitely worth seeing and listening to. Sound Underground invites you to take off your headphones and listen to the sounds we sometimes take for granted.

Before watching Take Me Away Fast, I tried to keep an open mind regardless of Tambay concerns about the film. The film focuses on a German DJ named Frank Gossner and his mission/life’s goal to find the best in Afrobeat and African funk music on vinyl, mix it, and play it in clubs.

Sounds harmless doesn’t it? The premise of this short documentary is interesting but it unfortunately comes off as pretentious.

Frank ventures to West Africa specially Ghana and Benin and is determined to find a long lost record by the African Brothers Band. He claimed he needed to find that record and the audience did not take him seriously. When expressing his concern about finding it, the audience, mostly white, laughed at him.

There was no arch, major discovery or climax to the film. Frank’s discovery of the long lost record became anti-climatic because we knew all along he would. Take Me Away Fast lacked substance and depth to convince an audience to feel something for the subject of the film. Most audiences do not relate with someone who comes off as arrogant, and I think this is where the documentary fails.

Overall, the documentary was well-intentioned but not well executed. Throughout the film, Frank claims that he wants to re-discover this wonderful music and spread the love of it in discos around the world. What’s so unfortunate is that he honestly thinks he is doing some good for the music and the people of Africa. But Frank’s arrogance stunk up the film, compromising what could have been a very interesting and compelling documentary about Afrobeat and African funk music.

Quite frankly he was not that interesting but I found the African musicians he interviewed such as Gustave Bentho of Orchestre Poly-Rythmo. The best parts of the films were when the musicians spoke about rediscovering their music.

On the technical side, there were several inconsistencies especially with the editing, camerawork and sound. I’ve learned not to really pay attention to technical stuff in documentaries because my focus is usually on the subject. But I did not have anything else to pay attention to besides the music in the film.

The music he found was nothing short of amazing so I cannot blame him; the music moves the soul. It’s just the way he comes about them that can rub most audiences the wrong way.

Frank does acknowledge how it can be seen as “cultural imperialism” but justifies himself by claiming he paid good money for those records. My main issue was not the alleged cultural imperialism, but rather that some of these people who made this beautiful music are still living and need more recognition. But let’s face it, Frank is not a cultural anthropologist, he’s definitely not a filmmaker and he’s not that interesting. At the end of the day, he’s just a DJ and we should not expect more from him or this film. He’s not trying to change the world; he’s just trying to throw one helluva party.

  • |

More: Film Festival

You might also like:
Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

6 Comments

  • eddie | March 26, 2014 4:11 AMReply

    Cant believe some of the comments made about Frank, why don't these closet racists with a chip on their shoulders get of there lazy arses and spend some of their own money and time and go to Africa and save these Cultural Artefacts themselves...?
    PEACE, EDX

  • Ramatula | January 1, 2012 8:16 PMReply

    Would be interested in sharing my own take on this if the film ever comes out. Looks like that kick starter campaign generated quite a bit of revenue....

  • Frank Gossner | August 19, 2011 3:32 AMReply

    For the record:

    I'm not a record label. I work with several record labels. I curate re-releases of various West African records for these labels. I broker the licensing arrangments between these labels and the copyright holders. I handle the graphic design for these releases, write the liner notes etc. I do not receive any form of payment for this work, all royalties go to the copyright holders. I'm in a position where I can do whatever I enjoy doing without having to worry about making any type of profit.

    I sometimes sell spare copies of records. This money enables me to finance my trips back to Africa and it helps me pay my Ghanain and Niegrian agents to dig up records while I'm gone. Again, in the end I'm not making any profit here. That's because I don't want to and because I don't need to. I'm content with what I have... well, I still enjoy finding more records but I really don't care much about anything else, least of all about some anonymous bottom feeders trying to slander my name on some bathroom wall located in the lower levels of the worldwide web. Serioulsy, who are you people, don't you have a life for yourself?

    And by the way, I don't know where you got your facts wrong but I do not own a "a house in the richest neighborhood in Brooklyn" nor anywhere else.

  • Silver Tongue | August 16, 2011 3:37 AMReply

    For the record, I have no personal interest in this music.

    Frank Gossner is a crook, a used car salesmen. He profits off people's heart strings. For a guy that spent his "life savings" it's kind of odd to read that he has a house in the richest neighborhood in Brooklyn. From the photos, it looks pretty swanky. Sure, he puts records out, big deal. So do other reissue labels. He is profiting from these releases nonetheless, regardless of what he may say or how little turnaround may be. What's so noble about that? Big deal. Yes, he posts a magnitude of free mixes but that just stirs desire, keeping people interested in his massive collection and ultimately boosting sales of his records that appear to all be priced well above $1000. So it's funny to read his rants, elevating himself to some sort of saint hood, cloaking his real agenda. This is a business we're talking about and a profitable one. Defend it how you will, the approach is apparently working.

  • Frank | June 7, 2011 9:03 AMReply

    I'm offering 30 hours worth of some of the most outsdanding cuts that I found for free download on my website at www.voodoofunk.com and I have within the last 3 years put out out 5 releases on CD and LP with many more lined up for publication in the next months to come which were all officially licensed.

    It's funny how people still always think I'm not sharing enough. There's also a general misconception about how the original artists so desperately need outside recognition. In many cases, this is simply not the case.

    El Rego and Danialou Sagbohan who I both had the honor and the pleasure to meet and spend days talking to don't have much interest in what people outside of their own cultural circle think of their output. They are legends where they live. Widely respected and living a comfortable life. Both still record, El Rego even owns his own recording studio. It's funny how people especially here in the US always seem to think that any artist from elsewhere on this planet so desperately craves their recognition or approval.

    I went to Africa and spent my life savings on buying up records which otherwise would have been destroyed. Most of the records you come across down there have been so neglected for decades that they are now unusable anyway. Other people use their life savings to make a down payment on a house. I went and bought records. So now I owe it to share them all with the rest of the world? What have you done or shared with anybody that gives you the right to make demands like that?


    If you're genuinely interested in the "musical legacy" of a "country" (no idea which one you are talking about) then go and spend some time and do your research. There's plenty to be found. You might have to travel and to spend some money but hey, if you think you have a right to have whatever music you're interested in delivered to you for free and best of all online of course then you simply are mistaken.

  • Kwakye | May 3, 2011 5:57 AMReply

    I haven't seen the film but I can add that the real problem is not that Frank is unearthing and purchasing this music but that he is hoarding it. The music is not being shared or spread and yes these musicians (some which are old friends) are still unknown. It is wrong that all these great, lost records are holed up in one person's house. The compilations and mixes barely scratch the surface of the thousands of magnificent releases that are boxed up in a corner somewhere in America. Most of the musicians that recorded this great work will be dead before anyone even gets to hear their great contributions to the music world. This I find most sad. A entire nations musical legacy is for the most part lost. This one man has the key to that rich story. Share it and educate the world. Help get these brothers some much deserved recognition.

Follow Shadow and Act

Email Updates

Most "Liked"

  • Electro (Jamie Foxx) Faces Off Against ...
  • Watch Omar Sy In Action As Bishop In ...
  • Black Movie Trivia - Congrats to our ...
  • Interview: Chatting with RZA About Paul ...
  • Critically-Acclaimed Doc 'The Trials ...
  • GLAAD Awards Honors Jennifer Lopez-Produced ...
  • A Look At Seattle International Film ...
  • Hard Times - Making It, Vol. 1 - Entry ...
  • "There Are Witches In My Building" - ...
  • Review: Amir Ramses' Doc 'Jews of Egypt' ...