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Filmography - World Music: Home

Titles available on DVD and streaming video as of March 2011

World Music Filmography

Titles available on DVD and streaming video as of March 2011. 

Most streaming videos listed are available exclusively to AU students, staff and faculty after an online authentications by AUID#.

This is a selective list of video holdings in the American University Library – including the Music Library located in the Katzen Center. Filmographies are created by doing multiple keyword searches in the ALADIN catalog to capture as many titles on a topic as possible. For complete up-to-date holdings (including VHS tapes) please refer to the library ALADIN catalog (


Because this list is relatively short, there is no subdivision.


Afghan star. 2010. 1 videodisc (88 min.). In Afghanistan you risk your life to sing. After thirty years of war and five devastating years of Taliban rule, pop culture is beginning to return to the country. Since 2005, millions have been tuning in to Tolo TV's wildly popular American idol-style series, Afghan star. Like its Western predecessors, people compete for a cash prize and record deal. More surprisingly, the contest is open to everyone across the country despite gender, ethnicity, or age. DVD 7245

Amandla! a revolution in four part harmony. 2003. 1 videodisc (103 min.). Tells the story of black South African freedom music and the central role it played against apartheid. Specifically considers the music that sustained and galvanized blacks for more than 40 years. Focuses on the struggle's spiritural dimension named for the Xhosa word for "power". An uplifting story of human courage, resolve and triumph. DVD 1326

Amir: An Afghan refugee musician's life in Peshawar, Pakistan. Ethnographic video online. 1985. 1 streaming video (52 min.). Depicts the life and musical activities of Amir Mohammad, a refugee from Herat, Afghanistan living in Peshawar, Pakistan. Streaming video -;764091

Asiklar: Those who are in love. Ethnographic video online. 1996. 1 streaming video (37 min.). Documentary film about the Turkish musicians/storytellers/minstrels called ashiks, who chronicle through song and poetry the cultural and personal history of Turkey and of their own lives. Streaming video -;764099

Buena Vista Social Club. 1999. 1 videodisc (105 min.). In 1996, music legend Ry Cooder went to Cuba to search for buried treasure. He found gold. Looking for lost songs and forgotten singers, Cooder discovered an exotic land of passion, sensuality and music. HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 265

Bunny chow: Know thyself. Global lens collection: Global lens collection. 2009? 1 videodisc (95 min.). Feature film.  Three aspiring young Johannesburg comedians find humor in relationships, hang out with friends, and go on a raucous road trip to Oppi Koppi, South Africa's largest music festival. HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 8048

Calle 54. 2000. 1 videodisc (106 min.). Introduced to Latin jazz in the 1980s, when he was beginning his career as a director, Fernando Trueba has since become a devoted fan of the music. Noted jazz artists have scored for some of his films and he took his love of the music one step further in which he gathered together a number of his favorite Latin jazz artists for a series of interviews and performances. HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 8108

Crossing the bridge: The sound of Istanbul. 2005. 1 videodisc (90 min.). Alexander Hacke, European musician and composer, sets out to capture the musical diversity of Istanbul as he roams the streets of Istanbul with his mobile recording studio and microphone to assemble a portrait of Turkish music. His voyage leads to the discovery of a broad spectrum ranging from modern electron, rock and hip-hop to classical "Arabesque". The film is also a visual documentary of Istanbul, with stark contrasts of old and new, western and eastern, poor and rich, modern and traditional. DVD 6336

Cuban pianists: A documentary + a concert. 2006. 2 videodiscs (194 min.). Some of the greatest figures in the world of Latin jazz help tell the tale of the genre's history and evolution. This two DVD set also includes a 70 minute concert with performances from Chucho Valds, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and more. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 72

Favela rising. 2007. 1 videodisc (82 min.). Documents how former drug-trafficker Anderson Sa, and Jose Junior's Grupo Cultural AfroReggae are working to unite a Rio slum, or favela, against a violent drug industry and police oppression. The Grupo Cultural AfroReggae organization uses music as an instrument of change, to offer an alternative to the drug lords as role models for the children of the favela, and Sa is the lead vocalist for their band, AfroReggae. DVD 4157

Gadjo dilo = Crazy stranger. 2005. 1 videodisc (97 min.). Feature film.  A young French man, in search of a legendary Gypsy singer, is taken in by a Gypsy community in Romania where he learns their ways of talking, drinking, dancing, cursing and screwing. HOME USE COLLECTION VHS 7076 and HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 5841

Genghis blues. 2000. 1 videodisc (90 min.). The story of a Paul Pena, a blind American blues musician, and his trek to Tuva to live among its inhabitants and compete in their triennial khoomei (throat singing) contest. He is accompanied by a documentary film team and Tuvinian throat singer Kongar-ol Ondar. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 77

Gimme somethin' to dance to! What is bhangra? 1995. 1 videodisc (18 min.). Documents the rising popularity of bhangra music, originally from the Punjab and popularized in England, principally by Bally Sagoo, with the addition of Western instrumentation, rap and techno beats, and special effects.  Popular over American radio stations, bhangra music brings together ethnic groups within the expatriate Indian community. Featured are interviews with various radio DJ's. DVD 7470

The harder they come. 2006. 1 videodisc (105 min.). Feature film.  A country boy who travels to Kingston to make it big as a reggae singer is ruthlessly exploited, first by his employer, then by the producer of his hit record. At last he becomes a pot-pushing desperado in an effort to live up to the code of his favorite movie heroes. VHS 3169 and HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 5809

The Heritage of Flamenco. 1992. 1 streaming video file (60 min.). In Andalusia and all around the world, the sensual rhythms of flamenco ignite the blood with joy and sorrow. This program helps make accessible the mysterious, intimate, plaintive form of music known as flamenco, promoting a deeper appreciation of Spanish culture. Background information on Moorish Spain and a chronology of Gypsy history provide the context for generous footage of a juerga-an informal flamenco performance-that includes a full complement of dancers, singers, guitarists, and palmeros. An RTVE Production. (Spanish, 60 minutes). Streaming video -

In the footsteps of Taytacha. Ethnographic video online. 1985. 1 streaming video (30 min.). Follows a group of Quechua-speaking musicians and dancers as they leave their remote villages high in the Andes Mountains of Peru and join thousands of other highlanders on the annual religious pilgrimage to the sacred peaks of Qoyllur-Rit'i. Throughout the festival, villagers explain what the ritual means to them both personally and collectively. Streaming video -;764264

Iran's Young Rebels. 2008. 1 streaming video file (36 min.). With nearly three-quarters of its population under the age of 30, Iran is experiencing a quiet revolution as young men and women chafe against the restraints imposed upon them by their countrys traditional regime. In this compelling program, correspondent Evan Solomon speaks with anti-government musicians, a female race car driver, student dissidents testing the limits of legal tolerance, and others as he travels to the vibrant markets of Tehran, rock music clubs that are literally underground, a drug treatment center that deals with Irans burgeoning addiction problem, and an aesthetic plastic surgery operation. Viewers also hear from the man behind government-sanctioned pop music, who agrees with censorship policies, and from Irans ‘s father of the Internet, who denies that censorship exists at all. (Portions in other languages with English subtitles, 36 minutes). Streaming video -

A Jumpin' night in the Garden of Eden. 199. 1 streaming video file (76 min.). Three generations of Klezmer musicians are working together to revive this vigorous and soulful expression of Yiddish culture which orginated in Eastern Europe and was influenced by Gypsy, Greek and other old world melodies, as a well as American jazz, before almost dying out. VHS 4038 and streaming video,63

Koto: The music of Tadao. Sound of Japan. 2003. 1 streaming video file (48 min.). Tadao Sawai was Japan's greatest modern koto player, enjoying immense popularity and influencing a whole generation of musicians. His widow, Kazue Sawai, has become heir to his musical legacy and is one of the foremost players of this traditional instrument. Kazue discusses Tadao's playing and how she has integrated modern music into her own repertoire. Contains highlights of several of Kazue's performances and archival footage of Tadao playing his koto. VHS 7810 and streaming video

Latin music USA. 2009. 2 videodiscs (240 min.). Latin music USA highlights the great American music created by Latinos, and celebrates the Latin rhythms at the heart of jazz, rock, country, and rhythm and blues. It's a fresh take on American musical history, reaching across five decades to portray the rich mix of sounds created by Latinos and embraced by all. DVD 7998

Half moon. 2008. 1 videodisc (107 min.). Feature film. Mamo is an iconic Kurdish musician in the twilight of his life and failing health, must lead a dozen of his sons to Iraq for a concert to celebrate the fall of Saddam Hussein and the end of his repression of Kurdish music. Their plan is to drive across the border between Iranian and Iraqi Kurdistan, but the road will be long and winding and the local wise man has predicted calamity. The men will encounter the most sublime visions alongside the most horrendous brutality. First they must pick up Hesho, Mamo's exiled singer and muse. Her voice represents a divine, transformative power, and Mamo is left in a state of grace no one could ever have anticipated. HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 4407

Rap Refugees: Conservative Palestinian Education in Flux. 2009. 1 streaming video file (60 min.). Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, is a stronghold of conservative values where the people hold tightly to their Palestinian identity and the right of return. This program enters the camp's only all-girl secondary school to learn a striking lesson about how the formation of Israel has turned three generations of Palestinians into refugees in Syria-and to follow four students through the highs and lows of the school term. Shaza and Rahaf struggle against tradition to publicize the Palestinian cause through rap music; Sa'fa works to overcome religious and social boundaries as she vies for a sports scholarship; and Tulin, prone to disrupting class, finds success with a Palestinian children's orchestra. Produced by the Open University. (Portions in Syrian with English subtitles, 60 minutes). Streaming video -

Ravi Shankar the man and his music. 1994. 1 streaming video file (60 min.). This loving portrait of Ravi Shankar shows us the totality of Shankar’s art, the inner peace from which the fiery dexterity emerges, the philosophy that underlies the shape of raga, and the characteristics of the sitar, tabla, santur, sarod, and sarangi. We see and hear him play and talk: in Europe and America, with Yehudi Menuhin, Zubin Mehta, Jean-Pierre Rampal, and George Harrison, and at home, in India, with his students and his wife. Streaming video -

Rebel music: Americas. 2007. 1 streaming video file (80 min.). This program features several defiant artists in performances that are interwoven with social commentary on displaced or disadvantaged communities. Through their music, these groups take viewers inside major grassroots movements shaping the Americas. Streaming video -

Rockers. 1999. 1 videodisc (99 min.). Feature film. Offers a funny, complex picture of life among poor Jamaican Rastafarians, including cogent commentary about the music business, marriage and the conventions of the adventure film, backed by a reggae score. HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 157

Selena. 1997. 1 videodisc (128 min.). Feature film.  Chronicles the rise to fame of Selena, the Grammy Award-winning South Texas singer, whose life tragically ended at age 23 just as she was taking Tejano music where it had never gone -- into mainstream America. VHS 5084 and HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 5764

Sleepwalking through the Mekong. p2009. 1 videodisc (102 min.). DVD summary: "Sleepwalking Through the Mekong follows Los Angeles based Dengue Fever on their journey to the country that inspired their love for 60s and 70s Cambodian rock. The odyssey is a homecoming for singer Chhom Nimol and a transformation for the rest of the band as they perform with master musicians and record new songs along the way. More than a rockumentary, the film serves up a portrait of modern Cambodia as the band tours through Phnom Penh and beyond, crossing a great cultural chasm with the same spirit of Cambodia's original rock pioneers. Cambodia is often synonymous with the brutal Khmer Rouge regime that left millions dead and scattered refugees around the globe. This tragedy overshadows the story of Cambodia's music scene that was nearly destroyed. Cambodian musicians reinvented Western rock 'n' roll with a distinctly Khmer flavor to create a sound that is at once familiar and completely original. Sleepwalking Through the Mekong celebrates this vibrant but long-overlooked music and reveals the power of music to weave a common threat between extremely different cultures."--Container. MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 149

The Swahili beat. Ethnographic video online. 2008. 1 streaming video (28 min.). "The Swahili beat is an upbeat look at the remarkable history of the Swahili people of Kenya and Tanzania's East African coast. Packed with the music and dance of its indigenous peoples, the film takes viewers along the coast from the fabled island of Lamu to Zanzibar, Mombasa, Kilwa, Bagamoyo and Dar es Salaam, tracing the development of the Swahili culture through the intermarriage of Arab settlers, arriving from Oman in the 8th century, with local Africans. The resulting Islamic hybrid culture cemented economic and social stability. The emergence of the Swahili as prosperous merchant brokers in the Indian Ocean basin and in the growing East African slave trade made them a lucrative target for successive waves of settlers, invaders and colonizers, including the Persians, Portuguese, Arabs, Germans and British. The Swahili have withstood all these invasions and maintained their Afro-Arab Islamic culture until today. Can they survive in the face of globalization, the Internet and tourism?"--Container. Streaming video -;763954

Tex-Mex: Music of the Texas Mexican borderlands. Beats of the heart. 2001. 1 videodisc (ca. 60 min.). Tex-Mex music is an exuberant style with a Mexican soul and a rock'n'roll heart.  It combines styles of corida, norteno and others, is full of joy and energy, but shows significance through its lyrics about social problems. VHS 3266 and HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 268

Tsugaru Shamisen: The World of Michihiro Sato. 2000. 1 streaming video file (48 min.). Michihiro Sato is considered the finest player of the Tsugaru shamisen, a traditional three-stringed instrument of the Tsugaru province integral to Japanese folk music. This program combines live performances by Sato at the Otsu Traditional Performing Arts Center with the musician's commentary on the history and role of the shamisen player, a door-to-door minstrel of a bygone era. Sato also discusses the future of Tsugaru shamisen, such as his work with jazz and avant-garde musicians in America and Europe. (48 minutes). Streaming video -

Vengo. 2003. 1 videodisc (89 min.). Feature film. After his brother has murdered a member of a rival gypsy clan and gone into hiding, Caco becomes both the de facto figurehead of his 'family' and protector of his handicapped nephew. As tension mounts between the two clans, the threats of revenge against the nephew for the crime of his father are played out against a backdrop of rapturous flamenco music and dance performances. HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 972