2014, 120 minutes, color & b/w, U.S.A.
No individual better embodies African music of the 1970s and ’80s—and its pivotal role in postcolonial political activism—than Fela Kuti. After quickly taking his native Nigeria by storm, the pioneering musician’s confrontational Afrobeat sound soon spread throughout the continent and beyond, even as it made determined enemies of the repressive Nigerian military regime. As a result of continued persecution, increasingly unorthodox behavior, and, eventually, complications due to HIV, Kuti’s final years saw his musical output and influence wane.
Within the past decade, a resurgence of interest in his work has posthumously repopularized Kuti, culminating in the massively successful Broadway show FELA!, written by Jim Lewis and directed by Tony Award winner Bill T. Jones. Academy Award–winning director Alex Gibney interweaves the show’s skillful staging with a treasure trove of period interviews and hypnotic performances to recapture the essence of the man, his music, and his enduring cultural and political relevance.
Director: Alex Gibney
Executive Producers: Steve Hendel, Ruth Hendel
Producers: Alex Gibney, Jack Gulick
Co-producer: Alison Ellwood
Cinematographer: Maryse Alberti
Editor: Lindy Jankura
Composer: Fela Anikulapo-Kuti