“[A] true standout… unequivocally demonstrates the essential role music plays in maintaining a sense of identity, not to mention hope for the future, among a people sorely worn down by the decades-long fighting.” — Jay Weissberg, Variety
Beats of the Antonov premieres Monday, August 3, 2015, at 10 PM on PBS stations.
Sudan has been in an almost constant state of civil war since it achieved independence in 1956, and it split into a pair of sovereign states in 2011. Today, on the border between the two, Russian-made Antonov planes indiscriminately drop bombs on settlements in the Nuba Mountains below. Yet, incredibly, the people of the Blue Nile respond to adversity with music, singing and dancing to celebrate their survival. Beats of the Antonov explores how music binds a community together, offering hope and a common identity for refugees engaged in a fierce battle to protect cultural traditions and heritage from those trying to obliterate them.
“This film took shape as I was listening to music from the refugee camps,” said filmmaker hajooj kuka. “The music was made by instruments created from found objects; a radio was used as an amplifier to create an electronic Sudanese sound that was unique. It was new and very hip and I loved it. The music moved me so much that I knew the story behind it was key.”
“I named the film after the Antonov, a Russian airplane bombing the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile,” he said. “‘Beats’ refers to the sound of the bombing–people are running and they are scared–but ‘beats’ also refers to the music that heals people.”
Visit the POV companion site for Beats of the Antonov to watch the full film online for free for a limited time following the broadcast (starting August 4, 2015), find out what’s happened since the cameras stopped rolling, and download a discussion guide and other viewing resources. Share your thoughts and ask questions by using the hashtag #BeatsoftheAntonov.