The story of Afrobeat pioneer, multi-instrumentalist and human rights activist Fela Kuti is told in the joyous, moving Finding Fela! by Oscar-winning documentary maker Alex Gibney (ENRON: The Smartest Guys in the Room, We Steal Secrets).
Born in Nigeria in 1938, Kuti rose to fame in the 1970s by creating Afrobeat, which fused jazz, funk, high-life, psychedelic rock, and traditional West African chants; a polyrhythmic sound that became the backdrop to Africa’s postcolonial activism and quest for freedom.
He founded a commune and recording studio for his extended musical family named the Kalakuta Republic; but while his music gained international renown, its lyrics – promoting revolutionary ideals, modernity and openness – enraged Nigeria’s ruthless military regime; and with each successive album their attacks on the Republic and specifically on Kuti himself became ever more extreme.
Eleven years after Kuti’s death, Gibney records the rehearsals and performances of a Broadway musical, 2011’s Fela! which magnetised new audiences to Kuti’s work; and sets the musical against his own non-fiction exploration of a truly extraordinary man – offering us new insights into a complex, provocative and undeniably brilliant performer.