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Songs of the Adventurers

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South Africa,
A lyrical yet hard-edged look at the lives and spirit of migrant mine workers from Lesotho, as expressed through difela, their eloquent, autobiographical oral poetry.
Physical formats available:
Digital formats available:
MPEG-4 AVC, Quicktime (Pro Res)
Audio & visual:
Sound, Color

A collaborative work by filmmaker Gei Zantzinger and anthropologist David Coplan.

Difela combines the tough, earthy language of mining life with unexpected poetic touches, sung out in a flowing chant. Outside of Lesotho, few knew of its existence. Inside Lesotho, difela was shunned by black and white elites who considered it low class, vulgar and backward.

But taken on its own terms, difela is raw beauty in the face of abject misery, infused with startling imagery and vibrant execution that illuminates the suffering and bitterness behind it.

The film looks at other musics of Lesotho, in both individual and group performances. It also looks at the impact of this life on the women left behind at home, as well as the women who entertain the miners in bars: their fears, uncertainties, and a poverty that engulfs them, the choices they must make.

Producer and Director: Gei Zantzinger
Anthropologists: David Coplan & Georgia McMillan
Editor: Ben Levin
Camera: Thomas Ott
Sound: Gei Zantzinger
Field producer: Lynne Gulezian
Narrator: David Coplan
Constant Spring Productions
Ethnomusicologist Gei Zantzinger was an independent filmmaker and student of folklore who began making films in Africa in 1966, collaborating with musicians and other notable ethnomusicologists and filmmakers. His career in the social sciences spanned nearly 50 years. Gei’s efforts resulted in a broad collection of 17 extraordinary films made between 1966 and 1997 that examine the roles that oral traditions, music and dance play in preserving and informing personal, cultural and spiritual identity in disparate communities around the world.
Music and Dance
Global selection of music and dance films and titles.