Finding Fela
About IDFA
Finding Fela
IDFA 2014

Finding Fela

Alex Gibney
United States
119 min
Dutch Premiere
Festival history
Afrobeat is a potent and infectious mix of funk, jazz, highlife and traditional Yoruba percussion. The genre’s originator was the Nigerian singer and saxophonist Fela Kuti, and it was the ideal medium for him to denounce the corruption and dictatorial tendencies of the Nigerian government. The price he had to pay was high, because between the 1970s and his AIDS-related death in 1997, he was arrested 200 times, his home was set on fire and his mother was murdered. But he never gave up. The Broadway musical produced by Jay-Z and Will Smith catapulted Kuti to posthumous global stardom. Preparations for the musical form the framework for , with original concert footage intercut with Kuti’s contemporaries and kindred spirits including Paul McCartney and The Roots’ drummer Questlove, as well as his sons, daughters, band members and managers. And of course there are appearances from Fela himself, often wearing nothing more than underpants, with a fat joint never far away. As in Alex Gibney’s earlier documentaries about the cyclist Lance Armstrong, Wikileaks chief Julian Assange and scandal-ridden governor Eliot Spitzer, the director doesn’t shy away from his subject’s less positive traits, taking the time to focus on Kuti’s regressive ideas on women’s emancipation and the stubborn denial of his fatal disease. This is a portrayal of the man and a celebration of the myth.
World Sales
Screening copy