Paul Simon and director Joe Berlinger have been making the rounds at Sundance 2012, and for good reason. Their documentary, “Under African Skies” is creating quite the buzz at this year’s festival.
The film documents the creation of Simon’s album “Graceland”, its overnight success, as well as the rage it caused as critics accused the album of impeding the abolishing of apartheid. Simon said he was surprised by the protests of his album, and believes the album and tour actually raised awareness and helped the end of apartheid.
“Once I saw it had an immediate acceptance and that people loved it and had great affection for the music, I thought that the tour and the album were going to be a very effective way of showing just how evil apartheid was,” Simon said in an interview. Director Joe Berlinger stated “We established that we’re going to do an honest exploration of these issues and also go deeply into how this music was made, which, to me, is actually the more interesting part of the film.”
“Under African Skies” also follows Simon on his return to South Africa last year when he and his musicians from the album reunited for an encore performance.
Simon was warmly welcomed there, reminiscent of a trip back he took back to South Africa a few years after the “Graceland” tour, when apartheid had ended and South Africa’s newly elected president, Nelson Mandela, invited him to come and perform.
This reporter was present at the “Grey Goose Lounge” in Park City, Utah for the Sundance interview of Simon and director Berlinger. While I was secretly hoping that Mr. Simon would favor us with a song, it was a honor just being in the presence of such a well respected musician (and filmmaker).