- Written by Michael Ikotun
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.
Finding Fela tells the story of Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s life, his music, his social and political importance. He created a new musical movement, Afrobeat, using that forum to express his revolutionary political opinions against the dictatorial Nigerian government of the 1970s and 1980s. His influence helped bring a change towards democracy in Nigeria and promoted Pan Africanist politics to the world.
About the Director
Academy Award winner Alex Gibney, known for his gripping, deeply insightful documentaries, is one of the most accomplished nonfiction filmmakers working today. His film, Taxi to the Dark Side, received the 2008 Academy Award for best feature-length documentary. Gibney had previously earned an Academy Award nomination in 2006 for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, which screened at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and received an Independent Spirit Award. We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks screened at the Festival last year.
Cast and Credits
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
Contact: Jack Gulick / Fela Films, LLC / firstname.lastname@example.org / (212) 352-3010
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