Claude Santiago

filmmaker - music documentaries etc.

The Last Poets
made in Amerikkka - 52 min.

First broadcast: Trace TV 2009
Production: La Huit with 3D Family, Banlieues Bleues, Trace TV
Graphic design: Michel Meyer

In 1968 Harlem, following Martin Luther King's assassination, a handful of angry young men come together to form The Last Poets. In their rapid-fire, spoken-word style they paint a devastating yet humorous picture of ghetto life, inventing in the process rap and hip-hop culture. Film synopsis: After years apart, the cult group The Last Poets reunites for a one-time concert with other great black music legends. In the confined space of a rehearsal studio, they reminisce about the birth of the collective, the years of violence and high-risk artistic frenzy.

Soca Power in Trinidad & Tobago - 60 min.

First broadcast: Trace Tropical 2008
Production: ADN with Maturity music, Trace TV, Prodom
Graphic design: Michel Meyer

In Trinidad, the southernmost island of the English-speaking Caribbean, soca has replaced calypso as national music. Deeply rooted in its African and Indian roots, and influenced by reggae, dancehall, hip-hop and techno, modern soca fuels concerts and carnival parades day and night. From a wedding in the jungle to an anti-drug benefit, to the rhythms of popular Port of Spain radio stations, the film offers an up-tempo drift through the little-known world of soca, whose unbridled sensuality and frequently inflammatory lyrics serve dance and party scenes so well. Come drift with 4 of soca's biggest stars.

James Blood Ulmer
no escape from the blues - 52 min.

First broadcast: Mezzo 2006
Production: La Huit with Banlieues Bleues, Voi Sénart
Graphic design: Michel Meyer

James Blood Ulmer is probably the most innovative guitarist since Jimi Hendrix. Longtime musical companion to Ornette Coleman and other jazz giants, in the early 80s he is also the black darling of the punk and new wave scenes who are fascinated by his freedom of style. Film synopsis: James Blood revisits traditional blues on stage with Black Rock Coalition's Vernon Reid. Stock footage takes us back to the race riots of the 60s and, for the younger generations, Blood calls up the spirit of blues music; the poetic chronicles of African Americans' joys and distress over the past century.

Tom Zé
dada brasil - 47 min.

First broadcast: Mezzo 2005
Production: La Huit with Banlieues Bleues, Voi Sénart
Film scratches: Lyonel Kouro

Tom Zé, along with Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and a few others, invented the Tropicália art movement, which criticized bosa nova for being apolitical and called for a new aesthetic and a new Brazil during the military dictatorship of the 60s. The whimsical agitator's music is strongly rooted in the Northeast Region, where he comes from, and shaped by the mega-urban environment of São Paulo, where he lives. Rémy Kolpa Kopoul (Radio Nova, France) leads a baroque interview during which Zé expresses his iconoclastic ideas about women, Brazil and himself.

Justo Valdez & la rumba palenquera
a tribute to Batata - 45 min.

First broadcast: Mezzo 2004
Production: La Huit with Banlieues Bleues, Mezzo

In tribute to Batata, the master of Afro-Colombian drums who passed away before the concert, his musicians meet up with the finest Zairian rumba musicians. Using long focal lenses, six cameras film the performance in very tight, uncluttered shots. The editing interplays luxuriant percussions, Latino brass instruments, Caribbean accordion and soukous guitar, creating a dense and hypnotic musical and visual flow. DJ "Champeta Man Original" traces the origins of this music back to the "maroons," rebel slaves who took refuge in the Colombian jungle. Meanwhile, Prudence Maïdou dances with the city lights.

America number one - 23 min.

An Aimless Travel Journal - 2004
Self-produced - with Jean-Marc Schick/Atelier sonore

New York: in front of Ground Zero you can buy 9/11 souvenirs. Antonin Artaud declaims a text rejecting mercantile and warlike America, which he loathes. The text was barred from French airwaves for 27 years. • Hanoi: a radio pours out ultra-nationalist propaganda to the only people who defeated the US military and who no longer listen to the Party. • Beijing: the American dream of consumerism and power. Kentucky Fried Chicken is everywhere, new-look rock is played in trendy clubs and the GDP is up 10%, but you still find Tai Chi in the parks.

Raï ! Raï ! Raï !
Cheikha Rabia & Bellemou - 50 min.

First broadcast: Mezzo 2003
Production: La Huit with Banlieues Bleues, Mezzo
Animation: Mathieu Földes

Cheikha Rabia, great priestess of traditional raï, and Bellemou, creator of modern raï, share the stage during an Algerian night at Banlieues Bleues Jazz Festival. Shot on a black backdrop and never using long or medium shots, the film focuses on the details that reveal each artist's personal performance by disconnecting it from any contextual reference. Using the same approach, two dancers are filmed separately then edited in, creating a rhythmic interplay of shapes and colors, which reinforces the trance effect produced by the sound track. Rabia and Bellemou discuss their fates.

Oran Oraï - 57 min.

First broadcast: Arte 2000
Production: P.I.A.

Shot on location while the civil war was still raging at the city's gates, the film takes us on an exploration of the raï scene in Oran, Algeria's most tolerant city and cradle to this very popular style of music in both the Arab world and beyond. International raï star Cheb Mami introduces the great singers of this ungodly music, in a still highly religious country. At a wedding, in a festival where men and women are separated, or in a club where whiskey flows like water, the stars of raï sing of free love, drugs and the dream of obtaining a visa for France.

Compay Segundo
a Cuban legend - 55 min.

First broadcast: Arte 1998
Production: Morgane prod. 

At the age of 90, the singer, songwriter and composer of dozens of Cuban classics goes on a domestic tour, which serves as framework to the film. From Havana to Santiago, Compay Segundo tells his story, retracing a life of music and love through the 20th century and Cuba's turbulent history. During concerts or improvised jam sessions, he meets with other great names in Cuban music such as Pio Leyva, Eliades Ochoa or la Familia Valera Miranda. This is only a few months after shooting Buena Vista Social Club with Wim Wenders and recording the international hit song "Chan Chan."

Dégénération punk - 60 min.

First broadcast: Arte 1997
Production: Morgane prod. 
Special edit: Bazooka / Suicide

From pre-punk goddess Patti Smith's poem urging rock's return to rebellion, to the death by overdose of the legendary Sex Pistols' bass player Sid Vicious, through editing of rare stock footage rather than using narration, the film recreates the chaos of the British and American scenes. Musicians, graphic artists, fashion designers and show biz con artists meet and mingle. Unhappy end: The "no future" generation's flamboyant self-destruction, as much as its spectacular commercial hijacking, quickly crushes the punk movement just as the post-WWII 30-year boom comes to a close.

Arriba de la bola
stories about Havana's carnival - 92 min.

First broadcast: France Supervision /Canal +  1996
Production: Morgane prod. 

Filmed in the heart of the carnival parades and peppered with surprising stock footage, the film dismantles the clichés that limit carnival to entertainment when it also stages a collective memory ravaged by slavery. Year after year, Cubans reenact scenes from a violent colonial history to exorcize their traumatic past and keep memory alive. The film is also an ode to this marvelous celebration. To capture its essence, let yourself be carried away by the magic of the rhythms, the grace of the dancers, the poetry of the lanterns and the liberating trance.

Carlinhos Brown
Bahia beat - 52 min.

First broadcast: Arte 1996
Production: Morgane prod. 

Carlinhos Brown loves his native Brazil: poor but dignified and creative, modern but proud of its traditions. Filmed in and around Salvador de Bahia, the documentary paints a picture of the gifted percussionist and now acclaimed writer, composer and singer. In his favela, he mentors several groups including Zarabe (Zapatista/Arab), a sort of musical guerrilla, which pacifically takes over entire neighborhoods with the sound of its brass instruments and drums. In keeping with the traditions of Candomblé (or voodoo), Brown sees the musician as a medium through which the spirit of his people is expressed.