Thursday, 15 March 2012
ACMI presents Long Play: Sing Your Song
Sing Your Song
"...Sing Your Song does three things only a superior bio-doc can do: Tell a stirring life story, place that life in the context of its times, and portray it with the kind of depth and breadth that makes you wonder why it hasn't been told before." - Variety Magazine
"...the epic, inspiring life of miraculously tireless star and activist Harry Belafonte is enough to make any of us feel like lazy bums, and should be screened at Occupy events the world over." - Film Journal
As part of its Long Play program, from 14 to 29 April the Australian Centre for the Moving Image presents Sing Your Song, a documentary tracing Harry Belafonte's rise from humble beginnings in Harlem to his success as a political activist, and Emmy, Grammy and Tony award-winning performer.
Following a meteoric rise to fame with his breakthrough album Calypso (1956), the young Belafonte travelled extensively, exposing himself to the disparities between rich and poor, and severe racial inequalities. Spurred by his mother's advice to "never awaken where there isn't something in your agenda to help set the course for undermining injustice," Belafonte stood tall against racism alongside Dr Martin Luther King. With his influence and that of his famous friends, they brought the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s directly into the American consciousness.
In the decades since, Belafonte has continued his quest for social justice and has been at the forefront of the anti-Apartheid movement, along with campaigns for famine relief and youth education. His determination to use culture as an instrument of social change has been the enduring quest of his life.
In an interview with the HBO network, Belafonte spoke about the link between activism and art.
"A lot of people have asked me, when does an artist like you become an activist? And I have to say, turn it around. When does an activist decide to become an artist, is a better way to look at the journey of my life. Because it was activism that led me to art."
Directed by Susanne Rostock - a documentarian with more than three decades of filmmaking under her belt -Sing Your Song honors Belafonte's political drive by creating both an intimate portrait of a performer and a rousing call to arms. Known for a body of work that explores a range of social issues, Rostock's previous documentaries include The Power of the Game (2007), Paternal Instinct (2004), and Stealing the Fire (2002).
A hit at film festivals internationally, Sing Your Song was voted Most Popular Non-Fiction Film at the 2011 Vancouver International Film Festival and made it through to the final 15 contenders for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. The film also features the producing talents of the youngest of Belafonte's four children, Gina Belafonte, one of five producers who worked on the film.
The Long Play season of Sing Your Song screens at ACMI in Melbourne from 14 to 29 April 2012. For program information please visit acmi.net.au
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