T HE FESTIVAL OF Britain, from 3 May to 30 September 1951, aimed to provide respite from the effects of World War II by celebrating the nation’s past achievements in the arts, industry and science, as well as looking hopefully to a future of progress and prosperity. It marked the halfway point of the century, a natural moment at which to take stock and examine advances in British society. The
Filmmaker Karen Thorsen gave us James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket, the award-winning documentary that is now considered a classic. First broadcast on PBS/American Masters in August, 1989—just days after what would have been Baldwin’s 65th birthday—the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1990. It was not the film Thorsen intended to make. Beginning in 1986, she and Baldwin had been collaborating on a very different film project: a “nonfiction feature” about the history, research, and writing of Baldwin’s next book, Remember This House. It was also going to be a film about progress: how far we had come, how far we still had to go, before we learned to trust our common humanity. The following memoir explores how and why their collaboration began. This recollection will be serialized in two parts, with the second installment appearing in James Baldwin Review’s seventh issue, due out in the fall of 2021.
Filmmaker Karen Thorsen gave us James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket, the award-winning documentary that is now considered a classic. First broadcast on PBS/American Masters in August, 1989—just days after what would have been Baldwin’s sixty-fifth birthday—the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1990. It was not the film Thorsen intended to make. Beginning in 1986, Baldwin and Thorsen had been collaborating on a very different film project: a “nonfiction feature” about the history, research, and writing of Baldwin’s next book, “Remember This House.” It was also going to be a film about progress: about how far we had come, how far we still have to go, before we learn to trust our common humanity. But that project ended abruptly. On 1 December 1987, James Baldwin died—and “Remember This House,” book and film died with him. Suddenly, Thorsen’s mission changed: the world needed to know what they had lost. Her alliance with Baldwin took on new meaning. The following memoir—the second of two serialized parts—explores how and why their collaboration began. The first installment appeared in the sixth volume of James Baldwin Review, in the fall of 2020; the next stage of their journey starts here.
. The institution of the film festival has over recent years provided a key location for the advancement of such historical and preservationist agendas. Major events like those held annually in Berlin, Cannes, Hong Kong, New York, Pusan, Toronto and Venice act as lynchpins around which a diverse range of cultural activities rotate. As Kenneth Turan’s Sundance to Saravejo: Film Festivals and the World
Sonic ethnography explores the role of sound-making and listening practices in the formation of local identities in the southern Italian region of Basilicata. The book uses a combination of text, photography and sound recording to investigate soundful cultural performances such as tree rituals, carnivals, pilgrimages, events promoting cultural heritage and more informal musical performances. Its approach demonstrates how in the acoustic domain tradition is made and disrupted, power struggles take place and acoustic communities are momentarily brought together in shared temporality and space. This book underlines how an attention to sound-making, recording and listening practices can bring innovative contributions to the ethnography of an area that has been studied by Italian and foreign scholars since the 1950s. The approaches of the classic anthropological scholarship on the region have become one of the forces at play in a complex field where discourses on a traditional past, politics of heritage and transnational diasporic communities interact. The book’s argument is carried forward not just by textual means, but also through the inclusion of six ‘sound-chapters’, that is, compositions of sound recordings themed so as to interact with the topic of the corresponding textual chapter, and through a large number of colour photographs. Two methodological chapters, respectively about doing research in sound and on photo-ethnography, explain the authors’ approach to field research and to the making of the book.
In the village of Accettura, a settlement of less than two thousand residents in central Basilicata, every year around Pentecost the festival of St Julian culminates in the raising of a massive tree in the main square by means of a system of manually operated winches. The process of carrying large oak trees from the nearby woods – with ox-teams – and a holly tree – borne on the shoulders of teams of men – as well as the mass participation of the village population, have resulted in the festival achieving widespread renown as the most impressive and spectacular
popularised humanitarian event, rather than to simply criticise or praise. In order to make this point we will explore the energies that are at play in the popular ‘carnival’ of the Danish non-profit music and culture festival, the Roskilde Festival. A second key aim of this chapter is to expand our understanding of the time-space/place relation of the festival, or carnival
During the month of August, in the southern part of Basilicata, a number of events involving wheat offerings take place during religious festivals dedicated to local patronal saints or to the Madonna. Traditionally, August was the time when most of the main agricultural work would be finished, and people had time and resources to dedicate to religious festivals. Wheat, once the main staple crop of the region, would be harvested in June–July and people would set aside bundles of ears of wheat to carry in procession on saints’ days. Although many people in
steps in front, where the music continues with fast tarantella dances that involve both men and women. This episode, as Scaldaferri and I witnessed it during the festival of the Madonna del Pollino, was a particularly conflictual expression of tensions that can be identified in a number of religious situations with a mass participation, in Basilicata and beyond. The tensions are in large part over the legitimacy of certain forms of devotion, and specifically those that are expressed as sound. These are what we call sonic devotion : the production and listening
7 Proselytizing at Purim On 23 March 1625, five years before the Great Plague would come with fury to Modena and carry off almost half its population, the Jewish festival of Purim coincided with Palm Sunday. In the latter part of the morning, many poor Jews crowded the palazzo of the 73–year-old Jewish banker Moisè de Modena (‘that old hunchback’, as he was endearingly called by his Christian clients), who lived in Via San Giorgio in Modena, as well as those of other prosperous Jews, in anticipation of receiving il buon Purim, a monetary gift for the Jewish