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Dominguinhos: Fantastic Brazilian Forró Accordion at the Vancouver International Film Festival

September 23, 2014

I’m thrilled that the 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival is premiering a new documentary this week, Dominguinhos, about an amazing Brazilian accordionist admired by David Byrne and others around the world.

That’s actually Brazilian accordionist Sivuca playing melodica in the foreground. Dominguinhos (José Domingos de Morais) is in the background on accordion.

(Brazil, 2014, 79 mins, DCP)
Canadian Premiere
FEATURING Dominguinhos, Luiz Gonzaga, Gilberto Gil, João Donato

From the VIFF program:

A celebration of music and the story of a fascinating life, this documentary introduces us to Brazilian musician Dominguinhos (1941-2013): his life, his art and the culture that sustained him. The famed accordion player is hardly known in these parts but his music is ripe for crossover discovery. Directors Joaquim Castro, Eduardo Nazarian and Mariana Aydar use interview footage from the musician at various stages in his life, complemented by a parade of found footage depicting Brazil in the years of his childhood and career.

The music Dominguinhos played is called forró and is massively popular in Brazil. It’s a country counterpart to the more internationally known Samba. Forró has at times been looked down on as low-class. Rooted in the poorest region in Brazil, the arid Northeast, forró’s original demographic is perhaps summed up by the title of one compilation, “Music for Maids and Taxi-Drivers,” (Dominguinhos isn’t on that one, but he is on Byrne’s great Brazil Classics Vol 3: Forro, etc.)

The journey of a musician who left the desert to conquer the world.

Fans of accordions and world music must see this film. Forró music combines often blazing piano accordion with drums and a rapidly chiming triangle that links it to Louisiana’s Cajuns and Black Creoles who historically played triangle as well as the modern rub board. The combination of African and European instrumentation makes it one of many musical creoles around the world that reflect the migration (forced or otherwise) of styles and customs that survive and evolve in our modern world.

Again from the VIFF description:

It all washes over us as we move from Dominguinhos’ rural childhood to Rio de Janeiro, where his musical career blossoms, and onwards to greater success. The visual treatment is gorgeous: the directors have gathered material like curators of memories—their subject’s, their own and their country’s. As Dominguinhos reminisces, the hazy, grainy images roll by with the weightless but vivid feel of a dream. In the tradition of Buena Vista Social Club, this is a lively, crowd-pleasing introduction to great music. It’s also a visual history of Brazil: its people, its culture and its rich modern history.

Dominguinhos’ legacy lives on and will hopefully spread with this film.

Festival Viva Dominguinhos 2014 honoured in his home region in furthest Northeastern Brazil.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Accordion Americana permalink
    September 25, 2014 10:54 am

    Nice. Really nice!

  2. September 28, 2014 5:23 pm

    That’s great, I love forro! Not enough people know about this great musical form, which is still incredibly popular in Brazil, and has now spread out well past the North East.
    In the North East the accordion is actually a more popular choice amongst youth than the guitar!

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