By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act May 7, 2014 at 4:40PM
Kino Lorber has acquired all North American rights to the documentary Finding Fela, following the film’s world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Directed by Oscar-winner Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room), the film was produced by Jigsaw Productions, Knitting Factory Entertainment, Okayplayer and Okayafrica.
Finding Fela will begin its national theatrical run on August 1, with an exclusive Manhattan engagement at IFC Center; the film is also scheduled to open in DC on August 8 (at Landmark’s E Street Cinema), as well as in Boston (at Landmark’s Kendall Square) and Atlanta (Landmark’s Midtown) on August 15.
In addition, Kino Lorber will book Finding Fela in more than 75 additional markets where Fela!, The Musical sold over 1,000,000 tickets nationwide. A digital, VOD and home media release will follow.
The film will also screen at the famous Bonnaroo music festival (www.bonnaroo.com) on Friday, June 13, where Fela’s son, acclaimed musician Seun Kuti, will appear for a special Q&A and perform before the screening.
Finding Fela tells the story of Fela Kuti’s life (1938 – 1997), his music, and his social and political importance. This in-depth look at the man who created Afrobeat (a fusion of Jazz, traditional West African rhythms, Funk, Highlife, and psychedelic rock) brings audiences close to Mr. Kuti's fight against the dictatorial Nigerian government of the 1970s and 1980s. With his audacious music and a great deal of courage, Kuti helped bring a change towards democracy in Nigeria, promoted Pan Africanist politics to the entire world and became an inspiration in the global fight for the rights of all oppressed people.
As a committed critic of the legacies of European cultural imperialism, Mr. Kuti became a major political force in Nigerian and African politics – even becoming a Presidential candidate (twice) in the 1980s. His socialist political views and truly subversive life style also lead to a criminal, government-sanctioned attack on his commune in 1977, which lead to his arrest and the death of his 82-year-old mother. Mr. Kuti was eventually released, but his mother's death shaped the rest of his life.
Taking audiences through a multi-threaded journey into the power of art to affect political and personal change, Finding Fela also reveals the creative process behind the Broadway musical Fela!, directed and co-conceived by acclaimed choreographer Bill. T. Jones.
“I’m very proud of Finding Fela and am delighted that the film will have a robust theatrical release in North America, so that audiences can experience the story and the power of this extraordinary performer and fighter for social justice,” said director Alex Gibney. “As Fela has said, in fighting for a better possibility, ‘music is the weapon.’"
“Finding Fela is not only the definitive documentary on music legend Fela Kuti, but also the most in-depth and comprehensive film about how Mr. Kuti influenced music, politics and art worldwide – and how we’re still coming to terms with his larger-than-life legacy,” said Kino Lorber CEO Richard Lober.
Finding Fela also features never-before-seen footage of his major concerts and even of Fela’s funeral. Exclusive talking-head interviews include Femi Kuti (Fela's eldest son), Yeni Kuti (Fela's first child), Seun Kuti (Fela's youngest son), Sandra Izsadore (former Black Panther party member), as well as musicians Questlove and Paul McCartney.