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'Finding Fela' director Alex Gibney attends Apple Store's 'Meet The Filmmaker'

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On Monday July 14, 2014 acclaimed documentarian Alex Gibney was interviewed at the Soho Apple store about his new documentary on Fela Kuti called "Finding Fela" and was on the scene. The documentary blends together Fela's life and ascent to fame, his political message, and the Broadway musical based off Fela's life in 2009 called "Fela! The Musical." The documentary interestingly shows off both sides of Fela's life -- the musician revolutionary who wanted change with the Nigerian government in the '70s and beyond, as well as the polygamist who believed that it was a man's right to beat his wives at home.

The documentary was clear about Fela being an extraordinary man. He influenced everyone around him, and his music was moving. He realized his power to change the world and gladly used it. There was even a bit interviewing Sir Paul McCartney, who admitted he cried, while watching one of Fela's live performances in Nigeria. But Fela was also a flawed man, and the documentary doesn't shy from showing all sides of him.

The film uses bits from the making of Broadway show to pinpoint themes about Fela that Gibney wanted to drive home. There are parts interviewing the creator of the musical, Bill T. Jones, talking about what elements of Fela's life he wanted to accentuate in the musical, and in turn, accentuating them in the film. An especially poignant example of that is when Jones explains how much his mother affected him, and how hard getting that right in the musical was.

When interviewed about the documentary, Alex Gibney said the film became more about finding Fela, and what kind of a man he was, and why he did the things he did. He originally wanted to call the movie "Fela," but during the filming, research, and editing process, he realized it was more about finding the man. As to "why Fela" and "why now," Alex Gibney commented that he realized he typically makes films about "people abusing their power," Fela fascinated him because here was a man who was a great musician but also tremendous force who changed the world.


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