A new Fela Kuti documentary is set to air on BBC Two this weekend.
The latest doc treatment on the pioneering Nigerian musician and bandleader is aptly titled, Fela Kuti: Father of Afrobeat. Directed by fellow Biyi Bandele (Fifty, Half of a Yellow Sun,) the film compiles previously unseen archival footage of Kuti, as well as interviews with those dear to him, including family, friends, collaborators, and fans of the late musician.
Kuti’s legacy as a genre-birthing artist who was vocally critical of the Nigerian government and military throughout his career has made his story particularly fitting for the documentary format, though obviously hard to capture in just one exposition. In 1982’s Music is The Weapon, French director, Jean-Jacques Flori, followed Kuti from stage to his infamous compound to interview the artist, capturing scenes from a raw and vital moment in the musician’s career. And 30 years later, documentarian, Alex Gibney (Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown, Gonzo, Sinatra: All or Nothing At All,) turned his lens to Kuti in Finding Fela. So it’ll certainly be interesting to see what Bandele digs up in his own research.
Meanwhile, the celebration of Kuti’s catalog and impact on music is continuing on multiple continents. This week, the musician was honored with a commemorative plaque at London’s Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where Kuti studied and was first introduced to jazz in the late 1950s.
Fela Kuti: Father of Afrobeat will premiere at 9:30pm BST on Saturday, November 21st, on BBC Two. A trailer for the film has not been released ahead of its debut, but you can learn more about the documentary via BBC Two.