Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, August 21:
WE’RE STILL HERE: JOHNNY CASH’S BITTER TEARS REVISITED
IDFA, Big Sky Doc, Biografilm, Belfast, Martha’s Vineyard, Noise Pop, Red Nation, American Indian Film Festival
A reflection on Johnny Cash’s controversial 1964 concept album in support of the struggles of Native Americans.
D’Ambrosio’s midlength documents the recording of 2014’s Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited, a tribute album on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Cash’s Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian. But beyond the standard behind the scenes footage and recording sessions that will primarily appeal to fans of the participating musicians and Cash adherents, the film also provides the fascinating, insightful, and troubled history of the original project, broadening the scope and audience for D’Ambrosio’s doc. Cash’s Bitter Tears marked a departure for the country singer, taking on an explicitly political topic in the form of a concept album – a form not fully appreciated at that point in time – that addressed the historical and ongoing oppression of Native people. As present-day musicians put their own spin on the album’s eight songs, their meaning and the reaction to the release is recounted, from outrage from fans accusing Cash of turning away from his country root to embrace folk activism, to outright censorship from the music industry who seemed deadset to deny the promotion of Native American issues.