Trailer Spotlight: Finding Fela

From Academy Award winning director Alex Gibney, Kino Lorber‘s Finding Fela documents the story of Fela Kuti, an African visionary who used his Afrobeat music as a weapon to ignite a revolution against the repressive Nigerian military regime and illuminate his Pan Africanist political beliefs. The film weaves together footage of Fela from the 70’s and 80’s with numbers from the musical adaption of his life as well as interviews with his children, The Roots’ Questlove, choreographer Bill T. Jones, and Paul McCartney among others.

Cutting the trailer for a documentary about this monumental figure in music history was certainly a challenge – for any biographical documentary you need to find the right balance of educating and entertaining.  Read more for insight into the process of creating this trailer.

Fela Kuti p

“However problematic his politics, religion or personal life were, Kuti’s musical talents were undeniable, and provide the heartbeat of “Finding Fela,” leaving you wishing for more.”  -Mary Sollosi, Indiewire

Our editor and graphic designer had this to say about working on the trailer: “One of the biggest challenges while creating this trailer was balancing our two audiences.  We needed to appeal to both lifetime Fela Kuti fans, while providing enough background for someone who has never heard of him.  We have two minutes to explain to someone who this man is, what his legacy was and why he was important.  Plus we need to convince them to see the documentary!”

Screen shot 2014-07-28 at 12.34.18 PM

“One of the ways we balanced our two audiences was with the graphics and copy.  The backgrounds in this trailer might look familiar to a fan of Fela Kuti – we created composites from Fela’s iconic album art for “Beasts of No Nation” (1989), “Sorrow, Tears and Blood” (1977) and “Yellow Fever” (1976).  These albums and their art represented the political statements Fela was making with each of his singles and contribute to showcasing his legacy in the trailer.  The copy provides the necessary “mini history lesson” for a viewer unfamiliar with Kuti’s work.”

Finding Fela opens in NYC August 1st at IFC Center.  For more information and playdates visit their official website.

Written by Nic Strain, edited by Melissa Virzi.