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The Mbira Series: Mbira Dza Vadzimu - Urban And Rural Ceremonies

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A compelling portrait of a Shona musician Hakurotwi Mude who lives in both the traditional and modern worlds. A deeply spiritual man and one of the most famous Shona singers.
Physical formats available:
Digital formats available:
Quicktime (Pro Res)
Audio & visual:
Sound, Color

Filmed in 1975 and restored from 16mm in 2021. Documentary shows Hakurotwi Mude and his group performing in several striking scenes: there is an informal spirit ceremony in his urban residence where he is possessed by an important Shona spirit as ceremonial beer is passed around.  Next, Mude’s group plays at a ritual sacrifice in the countryside: a great man has died and a bull is killed to follow his spirit into the afterlife.  Finally, Mude performs songs of sadness and comfort at a woman’s funeral, conducted in both Christian and traditional rites.

The film faithfully captures a sense of spirit and place in the use of music for various Shona activities.  It also highlights the major vocal styles that Mude employs, and preserves him at the peak of his talents, passionately entreating the spirits to come.

Producer: Gei Zantzinger (University of Pennsylvania Museum)
Director: Andrew Tracey (International Library of African Music)
Camera: Les Blank
Editor: Conley Benfield
Field Engineer: Bud Huggler
Field Research Assistant: Rosemary Logie
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.