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Viramundo: A Documentary on Gilberto Gil

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Thursday October 03, 2013

From Latino Life UK

Travelling Heart
By Frederick Moehn

The new film Viramundo follows legendary Brazilian singer-songwriter Gilberto Gil on a musical journey from Bahia, Brazil to Australia, South Africa, and back to the Brazilian Amazon. It had its UK premier at Barbican in late July this summer. Ethnomusicologist Frederick Moehn (King’s College London) discusses the film with its director Pierre-Yves Borgeaud.

Gilberto Gil is one of the greats of Brazilian popular song. He was a leading figure in the now legendary Tropicália artistic movement of the late 1960s. At the time, he and fellow Tropicalist Caetano Veloso drew the attention of the military dictatorship that controlled Brazil. Gil was briefly imprisoned before taking exile in London with Caetano for two years (1969-71).

After returning to Brazil, Gil continued to forge an astonishingly productive and influential career in music. Aside from being a tremendously prolific songwriter, singer, and guitarist, he has been an environmental and social activist, as well as a politician. He was first elected to local office in his home state of Bahia in 1987. He joined the Green Party in 1990. Later, as Culture Minister under president Lula da Silva from 2003-08, Gil developed ambitious and innovative policies for democratizing access to digital culture. One program was to establish numerous ‘Culture Points’ throughout Brazil where the federal government gave creative youths computer equipment and access to open source software and the Internet for use in building on existing localized cultural practices, and for connecting with other points and other cultural actors.

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