iREP 2017 Film Review: Free Fela
Produced by Theo Lawson, the film Free Fela sheds light on the life of the revolutionary performer and multi-instrumentalist Fela Anikulapo-kuti, whose music still echoes in the minds of many, years after his death.
Perhaps the title Free Fela is a deliberate attempt to state the symbolic representation of Freedom Park, formerly a prison space for political offenders, as a location to express himself fearlessly.
The documentary, which runs for 45 minutes, begins with delightful musical performances at the 2016 annual Felabration tribute party to Fela, held at Freedom Park. Interviews with art aficionados followed in honour of the man whose voice could not be suppressed by the powers of the government.
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No doubt, a documentary about Fela will not be complete without a visit to the late Afrobeat legend’s residence on Gbemisola Street, Ikeja, which serves presently as the Kalakuta Museum. Within, his personal effects have been archived for research and similar purposes.
Another segment of the documentary gives insight to the essence of live performances, particularly within Freedom Park, where the hugely successful Afropolitan Vibes is held.
The film draws much of its strength from its combination of footage and thematic texture, which provides a deeper understanding and insight into the late maestro’s vision of empowering and liberating future generations. Free Fela also reminds audiences that the archive is an important repository of memory. We are reminded of the powerful stance that Fela took and that his message, which remains relevant to our time, will never be forgotten.
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