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Trailer Watch: “Under African Skies” Doc Surrounds Controversy of Paul Simon’s Album “Graceland” in South Africa

Trailer Watch: "Under African Skies" Doc Surrounds Controversy of Paul Simon's Album "Graceland" in South Africa

Currently making its rounds at the Sundance Film Festival, Under African Skies is directed by Joe Berlinger. The feature documentary chronicles Paul Simon's return to South Africa to celebrate the birth of his album "Graceland", and the consequent conflict that arises due to the album's perceived controversial political themes.

Here's the full synopsis:

Paul Simon's historic Graceland album sold millions of copies and united cultures, yet divided world opinion on the boundaries of art, politics, and commerce. On the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Graceland's release, Simon returns to South Africa for a reunion concert that unearths the turbulent birth of the album. Despite its huge success as a popular fusion of American and African musical styles, Graceland spawned intense political crossfire. Simon was accused of breaking the United Nations' cultural boycott of South Africa, which was designed to end apartheid.

Renowned filmmaker Joe Berlinger brilliantly intertwines both sides of a complex story as Simon revisits old ghosts and gains insights on his own musical journey. With the compelling perceptions of antiapartheid activists and music legends such as Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, Paul McCartney, and David Byrne, Under African Skies is both a buoyant chronicle of unparalleled artistic achievement and a profound rumination on the role of the artist in society.

Under African Skies is also screening at the Bahamas International Film Festival at the end of this month.

Watch the trailer below:

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Judy Helgager

The Sarasota Film Festival will showcase UNDER AFRICAN SKIES at the closing of the festival on April 21, 2012. Can't wait to see it. What a terrific wrap.


Definitely want to see this project. I remember all the controversy around this project when I was a kid.


We're really looking forward to seeing this film (and reading your review) to see how it deals with the context in which the album–which is a classic–took shape and the controversies that resulted from Simon traveling to South Africa at the time.

See our summary of the controversies here:

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