2011 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE NINE MUSES

The second of two documentaries in this year’s New Frontier’s on-screen offerings is John Akomfrah’s THE NINE MUSES, a poetic, experimental meditation on the myth of Odysseus, homecoming, and identity.

Sundance Program Description:

Twenty-five years after the Trojan War, Odysseus has not returned home. His son, Telemachus, sets off on an arduous journey to search for his lost father. So begins Homer’s revered epic poem, THE ODYSSEY, the narrative reference point for John Akomfrah’s breathtakingly cinematic documentary essay, THE NINE MUSES, a poetic and idiosyncratic retelling of the history of mass migration to postwar Britain through the suggestive lens of Homer’s epic.

Structured as an allegorical fable, and loosely inspired by existential science fiction, THE NINE MUSES is divided into nine overlapping musical chapters and sets a vast array of archival material to a script constructed from the writings of authors ranging from Dante, Samuel Beckett, Emily Dickinson, and James Joyce to John Milton, Sophocles, and Dylan Thomas. Akomfrah masterfully crafts this symphony of material into a coherent, highly original, and absorbing meditation on a journey toward self-discovery and a sorrowful song about searching for knowledge and identity.

Some Background:
UK-based Ghanian filmmaker Akomfrah began making films in the early 1980s as part of the Black Audio Film Collective, which addressed the lack of images representing Black British identity. He made his solo directorial debut with the 1986 documentary HANDSWORTH SONGS, which screened at Toronto, as have many of his subsequent films, which often deal, like THE NINE MUSES, with the Black British experience.

Why You Should Watch:
The snowy Alaskan landscapes in Akomfrah’s film are beautiful to behold, perfectly echoing the sense of isolation and separation that is displayed in a very different way in the remarkable footage of African and South Asian immigrants in the UK of the 1940s and 1950s that pepper the film.

Screening Info:
For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph above.

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.