It's a Wrap

Austin Film Festival 2002 reviews

Freedom Highway

D: Philip King; with Tom Waits, Ani DiFranco, Jonas Gwangwa, Dick Gaughan, Elvis Costello, Pete Seeger.

Documentary Series

Music is as much a means of inspiration as it is one of expression, and there's so much to be inspired by in the "songs of resistance and liberation" discussed and performed in this documentary: Tibetan singer Yungchen Lhamo's heartrending a cappella siren song; June Tabor's rendition and explanation of "Lili Marlene"; Ani DiFranco, Emmylou Harris, and Irish singer Karan Casey singing Woody Guthrie -- even the Soweto String Quartet playing classical music becomes a political act, simply because black people were told they couldn't play these instruments. Elvis Costello's impassioned performance of a U2 song goes on and on, and a segment with the Roots feels underdeveloped and tacked on, as if someone said "What about hip-hop?" at the last minute, but there are beautiful performances by Willie Nelson, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Tom Waits, Los Lobos, and the South African performers Family Factory, just for a start. The archival images of soldiers, migrant workers, and civil rights marchers, and the tributes to Guthrie, Paul Robeson, and slain Chilean songwriter Victor Jara are eloquent. You can take away the singer, they tell us, but you can't silence the song.

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More by Sam Hurwitt
Video Reviews
Arizona Dream (1993)
Johnny Depp plays Axel Blackmar, a guy who talks to fish, dreams of the Arctic, and sure as hell isn't going to take over the Cadillac dealership his Uncle Leo (Jerry Lewis!) owns.

Feb. 14, 2003

Video 101
Stormy Weather (1943)
The rags-to-riches storyline is mere pretext for the musical numbers but oh my stars and garters, what musical numbers.

Dec. 27, 2002

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