WATCH FROM HOME: Siaka, An African Musician

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Hugo Zemp
color, 79 min, 2005

Available on DSL and DVD

Siaka Diabaté is a musician at Bouaké, the second largest town in the Côte d’Ivoire. Through his mother’s family he is Senufo, but through his father’s ancestry he considers himself a Mande griot. He is a multi-talented professional musician, and for the local festivals plays five instruments: the Senufo and Maninka balafons, the kora harp, the dundun drum and the electric guitar.

This film shows Siaka playing in the group led by Soungalo Coulibaly before his death in 2004, including the use of jembe drums, which we also see being made. Using long continuous shots that give priority to the music and to what Siaka and Soungalo have to say, this documentary introduces the audience to a fascinating world of urban music that incorporates traditional songs and dances by griots.

Shot on site a few weeks before rising of civil war, during various festivities, this film presents a living portrait of this lovable and highly skilled musician working in a traditional environment, adding another dimension to the pleasure of seeing and hearing him during his international tours.

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