Stephen F. Austin State University

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First Friday Film Series to screen "Under African Skies"

January 22, 2013 - Robbie Goodrich

NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS - Director Joe Berlinger's "Under African Skies" will be presented in a free screening at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, as part of the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Art's First Friday Film Series.

The documentary about singer/songwriter Paul Simon's 2011 journey back to South Africa 25 years after releasing his album "Graceland" will be shown in The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House in downtown Nacogdoches.

"The documentary 'Under African Skies' commemorates the 25th anniversary of the release of Paul Simon's brilliant and commercially successful album, 'Graceland,'" said Richard Orton, chairman of the Friends of the Visual Arts' First Friday Film committee. "It won a Grammy as best album in 1987. It also caused quite a stir politically in that he broke the cultural boycott against apartheid South Africa by going there to work with South African musicians.

"The film documents the creative process between Simon and the musicians whom he met for the first time and with whom he created the album," Orton said. "It also contains an ongoing dialogue between Simon and South African activists who opposed his first visit during the boycott.

"Simon's overall point is that art trumps politics," Orton said, "not the other way around."

The film also includes interviews with Simon and musical legends Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte and Paul McCartney, "who measure the breath of 'Graceland's' musical, political and cultural impact," according to the website paulsimon.com.

The First Friday Film Series is sponsored in part by the Nacogdoches Junior Forum. The screening of "Under African Skies" is also sponsored in part by the SFA School of Music.

The Cole Art Center is located at 329 E. Main St. For more information, call (936) 468-1131.