‘Under African Skies’, the new Joe Berlinger-directed documentary chronicling the creation and lasting influence of Paul Simon’s groundbreaking Graceland, will be screening this week at the 2012 US Sundance Film Festival.
The story of the making of Graceland, and the controversy created when Simon went to South Africa to record with local artists, is told in “Under African Skies,” the new full-length documentary from two-time Emmy and Peabody Award winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger (“Brother’s Keeper,” “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster,” the West Memphis Three/”Paradise Lost” trilogy).‘Under African Skies’ travels with Paul Simon back to South Africa 25 years after his first visit. Simon revisits the making of the record, surveying from the vantage of history the turbulence and controversy surrounding the album’s genesis.
His artistic decision to collaborate with African musicians created a new world musical fusion, combining American and African musical idioms while igniting an intense political crossfire, with Paul Simon accused of breaking the UN cultural boycott of South Africa designed to end the Apartheid regime.
In the film, Simon provides a fresh and revelatory perspective on the album while gathering the record’s original musicians for a transcendental Graceland concert reunion. “Under African Skies” features interviews with key anti-apartheid activists of the time and such musical legends as Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, Paul McCartney, David Byrne and Peter Gabriel.
“Prior to Graceland, the music of South Africa was largely unknown outside the country, except to a small minority of world music fans…” – Peter Gabriel
“I don’t like the idea that people who aren’t adolescents make records. Adolescents make the best records. Except for Paul Simon. Except for Graceland. He’s hit a new plateau there, but he’s writing to his own age group. Graceland is something new. – Joe Strummer interviewed by Richard Cromelin for the Los Angeles Times on January 31, 1988
This spring, Legacy Recordings / Sony Commercial Music Group will release a Graceland 25th anniversary commemorative edition deluxe collector’s box set as well as a special two-disc set, each featuring the original album with bonus tracks and the director’s cut of ‘Under African Skies’.