Bela Fleck: Throw Down Your Heart 2009 NR CC

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(89) IMDb 7.7/10
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Inspired by a love of African music and an interest in tracing the roots of the banjo, American banjo great Bla Fleck embarks on a musical journey through Uganda, Tanzania, Gambia and Mali, playing with locals and discovering the beauty of the land.

Starring:
Bela Fleck, The Jatta Family
Runtime:
1 hour 37 minutes

Bela Fleck: Throw Down Your Heart

Product Details

Genres Music, Documentary, Kids & Family
Director Sascha Paladino
Starring Bela Fleck, The Jatta Family
Supporting actors Bassékou Kouyaté, Anania Ngoliga, Oumou Sangare, Djelimady Tounkara, Haruna Walusimbi
Studio Docurama
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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AND the music and musicians were fantastic!
Dennis 25
It is very interesting to meet African musicians playing traditional African music on traditional African instruments.
Ben Shoemaker
The interaction of Bela with the different artists was truly amazing.
JanJ

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A. M. Johnson on June 29, 2009
Format: DVD
I just had the opportunity to see this documentary at a local independent theater. I thought "Banjos and Africa? Random! But could be fun..." I was so so so underestimating the power of this film! The music is nothing short of tremendous (one piece in particular, in the first quarter of the film, is virtually guaranteed to leave you breathless and astounded), Incredible, passionate voices and remarkable instruments combine to form sounds that will grab your soul and shake it.

Bela is fun to watch as he interacts with African musicians of various calibers. I love how unassuming he is, and how he speaks (as one of the African musicians points out) perfectly through his music, although his mouth sometimes fails him. What a remarkably talented and humble guy!

All in all, 5 stars +++. I went home and bought the MP3 album immediately, and can't wait to buy the DVD. :)
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By africhika on August 19, 2009
Format: DVD
wow, i JUST came back from watching this at an indie theater in chicago. LOVE IT! bela is an african brother! western media only portrays africa in terms of despair, destruction, disaster, disease and destitution.

Bela shows the joy of African music and how music is truly universal. it may sound cheesy, but it's a wonderful documentary. the cinematography is beautiful as well. bela meets with fabulous people. this doc. is so rich and uplifting. bela is truly a gift and using his talent to do more than what most of today's pop singers don't have the guts/skills to do.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Phil Wernig on June 9, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Mother Africa is the cradle of our species. She has also given birth to so much of our music that we sometimes lose our ear for its origins. "I thought it was important for people to realize where the banjo comes from because it is so much associated with a white Southern stereotype," says Bela Fleck, the world's primo virtuoso of this instrument. In "Throw Down Your Heart", he documents his six-week sojourn to Africa to discover whether the modern banjo still has a vibrant voice in the land where it was born.
The banjo is a descendant of an instrument that African slaves brought to the New World in the 16th century. It sat in the laps of musicians in cane and cotton fields, in plantation shacks and sheds, atop the levees and bales of raw goods that stood along the rivers that brought the blues to the bustling gulf ports.
By the early 19th century, the banjo was an essential element in plantation cakewalks and white minstrelsy. It accompanied sailors in their sea chanteys and traveled west with hopeful miners toward the Gold Rush. After the Civil War, the presentation banjo was adopted as a parlor instrument alongside the player piano. In the early 20th century, it sang in the ragtime orchestra and the Dixieland band. By the 1930s, the banjo had disappeared from the jazz ensemble, though it continued to flourish in folk music and in the jigs and reels of barn dances in the Appalachian states that reached a national audience through radio broadcasts. In the mid-1940s, the banjo burst forth as an instrument of arresting brilliance when it was featured in bluegrass music.
In the four countries on his itinerary, Bela Fleck steers clear of big cities and large venues.
Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Smith on December 17, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I first heard about this film from a friend in the music industry. I went to a private screening in Beverly HIlls, as I heard that Bela Fleck would be present, and I was anxious to re-connect with him. I had supervised the music for THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES MOVIE, and i had hired Bela to record the theme song in the early 90's. The film took me by total surprise. This documentary follows Bela as he traces the roots of the banjo through various African countries. From the first encounter I was riveted. I have always been a huge fan of African music, much more so than traditional American banjo music. The initial clash, and then blending of the two musical worlds has created one of the most intriguing soundtracks of recent memory. As the unlikely white boy musician arrives with his peculiar instrument in remote villages to meet local musicians, the magic begins and they discover and respect each others' unique talents. I purchased the soundtrack CD before leaving the theatre. I have told many friends about the importance of this picture, and with total agreement from all of them. When I learned the DVD was finally available, i rushed to purchase it. However it has now become the property of my 15 year old daughter, who became enchanted with the music months ago from the CD. This music constantly is playing in our home or car, and we've yet to tire of it. I give this film my highest rating! Enjoy!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Real World Reader on February 1, 2010
Format: DVD
I liked the African music a lot. I'm a banjo player, and have recently become very interested in the African roots of an instrument. So I grabbed this as soon as I saw it on the shelf at my local movie rental place.

The film is very simple; just Bela interacting with other musicians and singers. His somewhat quiet but affable manner fits nicely with his hosts - he doesn't come across as some fancy rock star at all and really lets the African musicians shine. And it's those African musicians who really do make the film so special. I was touched by the woman marimba player: they said that "typically the marimba was a male instrument - but that woman is a wizard!"

My one (major) complaint is that there wasn't very much *information* in the film. The meaning of the phrase "Throw Down Your Heart" was moving, but there was little else. For instance, when in Gambia and showing the instruments being played, it would have been very nice to point out that the musicians were playing in the 'clawhammer' style - a style used in Southern US old-time music (the strings are played with the backs of the fingernails), demonstrating nicely that both the instrument and the way it is played have their roots among the African slaves. I also would have a liked a little more info about the instruments themselves, their history and the variety of ways to play them.

I think Bela's primary interest was simply to *play* the banjo with his African friends, and the film shows that very well.
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