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Festival Celebrates Miami's Music Masters

Saturday, March 7--------Miami is, among other things, a city of music. And two of the biggest musical giants who have left an indelible mark on the city’s musical legacy will be feted in separate documentaries premiering at the Miami International Film Festival. The films, intimate portraits of singer Celia Cruz and bassist and composer Israel "Cachao" Lopez, bring a new and welcome dimension to the two Cuban musical icons who have put the Miami sound on the world music map.

In CELIA THE QUEEN, director/producers Joe Cardona and Mario de Varona, both Miami-raised Cuban-Americans, took 10 years to fill out the portrait of a woman whose music had been an integral part of the Miami scene. Instead of focusing on Cruz's relationship to Cuba, Cardona and Varona emphasize her musical significance and global appeal. In addition to famous exile figures such as Emilio Estefan and Willy Chirino, who have played a part in so many tributes to Cruz, the movie also features the likes of musicologist Ned Sublette, producer Quincy Jones -- who compares Cruz to jazz greats Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday -- and singer David Byrne.

In CACHAO: UNO MAS, filmmakers at San Francisco State University decided to take advantage of a 2005 Cachao appearance to accept the inaugural Marcus Award for Lifetime Achievement at the school's newly inaugurated International Center for the Arts and to play a concert at the San Francisco club Bimbo's. Initially, they simply intended to document the concert and award, but were encouraged to offer a more complete and complex portrait of the man and his music.

Both films will be shown nationally on public television. CELIA THE QUEEN will air in September on Voces, a Latino film series on PBS, with CACHAO: UNO MAS making its debut as part of PBS' American Masters series in 2010, the first time the program has featured a Latino subject. At the festival, both films are arousing strong interest. CELIA has added two more screenings to its already sold-out run. CACHAO will screen later in the week and will include an appearance by actor Andy Garcia, one of the film’s producers.

Sandy Mandelberger, Miami FF Spotllight Editor




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Mandelberger Sandy

March 6-15, 2009

United States

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