Documentary films truncate an entire life into fleeting bursts of exuberance and somber moments. Any moments that exist in between, however significant they are, are left out completely or brushed over. In making a documentary, on any subject, the director carves a narrative. And at times, the narrative carves itself. The decision then to make a documentary on the astounding life of Fela Kuti is a brave one. What do you exclude? What do you include? And most importantly, what informs these decisions?
Valerie June is the stuff of magical, star lit Tennessee nights. She is a dreaded, animated woman with a lilting Deep South accent doing music that flows out alternately between blues, soul, and country. It’s fitting then that her self-named genre is “organic moonshine roots music.” The aching pangs of love, and the ancient roots of the routes of her melodies echo even after a playlist has ceased.