Greece (MIFF 2002 , Backbeat)

"Screamin' Jay Hawkins is just like Snoop Dogg. You ask him how many men he's killed!" One of the many fascinating disclosures in the first ever documentary about the underground R&B legend. Known the world over for his signature tune, I Put a Spell on You, Hawkins survived WWII, the Mafia, racism, poverty and was still putting on his voodoo vaudeville show until his death in 2000. In amongst abundant concert footage, rare TV appearances and his final interviews, music and film luminaries such as Jim Jarmusch (who cast Hawkins in his 1989 movie, Mystery Train), Bo Diddley, Diamanda Galas and Eric Burdon speak of their experiences with and admiration for this eccentric, outrageous and comic performer.

Amongst the revelations are the facts that: Hawkins has been shot three times; almost cut in two by one of his six wives; spent months in a Japanese POW camp being tortured for information ("I couldn't tell them anything. I'm a black man in America... they don't even tell me what time the chickens wake up!") and cheated out of hit song royalties by having the Mob sicked onto him. Just the beginning of a bizarre story 75 years in the making.

Screamin' Jay Hawkins: I Put a Spell on Me is Greek writer-director-producer Nicholas Triandafyllidis' fourth film after Ta Skilia Gleifoun Tin Kardia Mou (1993), Radio Moscow (1995) and Black Milk (2000).

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