Skip to main content

Sworn to the Drum: A Tribute to Francisco Aguabella

USA, 1995 (MIFF 1995)

Director: Les Blank

At the start of his brand-new documentary on master Afro-Cuban drummer and composer Francisco Aguabeila, Les Blank throws us right into the heat and passion of a 1985 Aguabeila gig at Cesar's Latin Palace in San Francisco. The drum comes alive under Aguabella's hands, spinning rhythms that are thrilling, hypnotic-that speak directly to the soul. For Aguabeila, who migrated to the USA in 1957, drumming is an integral part of his santeria religion—he's a master of the bata, a special ceremonial drum. So while he's played with pop musicians from Peggy Lee to Paul Simon, drumming for him remains a sacred passion. Blank's film explores Aguabella's drumming styles, his religion, and features interviews with associates such as Katherine Dunham and Israel 'Cachao' Lopez. But it's the music that speaks the most freely-and Blank's film has plenty of it.

See also...

ZIVELI: MEDICINE FOR THE HEART

... ... Les Blank's long association with the Melbourne Film Festival ' continues with Ziveli, an anthropologtcal document on the culture and music of the Serbian-American communities of Chicago and ... More »

BURDEN OF DREAMS

A fascinating and controversial look at the ill-starred production of Werner Herzog's five-years-in-the-making feature, Fitzcarraldo. Set in the jungle of Peru, Fitzcarraldois the story of a mad ... More »

THE MAESTRO: KING OF THE COWBOY ARTISTS

... ... The latest work in documentary magician Les Blank's ongoing celebration of humanity at its most sociable and creative is this loving por­trait of an entertainer and artist provocateur who ... More »

Puamana

Puaniana is a portrait of the elegant and vener­ated Irmgard Farden Aluli, one of Hawaii's best loved composers. The name Puamana is central to Inngard's life — it is the name of the family ... More »

Sprout Wings and Fly

There are no naked women in Les Blank's film, but the music is equally good. It is a touching tribute to Appalachian culture in the form of a profile of the legendary mountain fiddler, Tommy Jarrell ... More »

Julie: Old Time Tales of Blue Ridge

The star of Julie is Julie Jarrell Lyons, who was born in 1903 in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. In telling the stories of her life, Julie evokes in an inimitable way a world gone by ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director