Musicians who travel: Bela Fleck goes to Africa, produces amazing film

Banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck brings his instrument back to its native Africa in Throw Down Your Heart, a phenomenal documentary film which came out last year.

“We’re equal,” says Bela to one of Mali’s top musicians when they realize they have no common tongue in which to speak.

“We can only communicate with music!” Laughter follows, and then a magical connection, captured on film, when two musical giants discover brotherhood while their instruments explore a distant kinship.

These musical moments, with their shared knowing looks, broad smiles, fist bumps, and cross-cultural syncopation, are oft-repeated scenes during Bela’s travels through five African nations (Uganda, Tanzania, The Gambia, Senegal, and Mali). Director Sascha Paladino finds plenty of mini-stories to weave throughout the trip, but the banjo remains the star of the show, along with the many musicians Bela encounters and with whom he records.

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