A new Fela Kuti documentary is set to air on BBC Two this weekend. The latest documentary on the pioneering Nigerian musician and bandleader is aptly titled, Fela Kuti: Father of Afrobeat, and is directed by fellow Biyi Bandele (Fifty, Half of a Yellow Sun). The film compiles previously unseen archival footage of Kuti, as well as interviews with those dear to him, including family, friends, collaborators, and fans of the late musician.
As a genre-birthing artist who was vocally critical of the Nigerian government and military throughout his career has made his story particularly fitting for the documentary format. There were many documentaries made to capture his exceptional story. In 1982’s Music is The Weapon, French director, Jean-Jacques Flori, followed Kuti from stage to his infamous compound to interview the artist, capturing scenes from a raw and vital moment in the musician’s career. And documentarian, Alex Gibney (Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown, Gonzo, Sinatra: All or Nothing At All,) turned his lens to Kuti in Finding Fela thirty years later. It will be interesting to see what Bandele digs up in his own research.
Meanwhile, Kuti’s catalog and impact on music continues to be celebrated on multiple continents. This week, the musician was honored with a commemorative plaque at London’s Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where Kuti studied and was first introduced to jazz in the late 1950s.
Fela Kuti: Father of Afrobeat will premiere at 9:30pm BST on Saturday, November 21st, on BBC Two. A trailer for the film hasn't been released, but you can learn more about the documentary via BBC Two.