UNDER AFRICAN SKIES travels with Paul Simon back to South Africa on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his historic Graceland album. Paul reunites with the original band to give a reunion concert and to explore the story of the turbulent birth of the album. Despite its huge success, and despite it being the first popular example of fusing American and African musical styles, Graceland was initially met with tremendous political crossfire, as Paul was accused of breaking the UN cultural boycott of South Africa designed to end the Apartheid regime. Paul revisits these ghosts and comes to some new revelations as his musical journey is explored. Featuring interviews with the key anti-apartheid activists of the time and such musical legends as Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, Paul McCartney, and David Byrne, the film is both an anatomy of a profound artistic achievement and a meditation on the role of the artist in society.
Two-time Emmy and Peabody winner Joe Berlinger has been a leading voice in nonfiction film and television for two decades. Berlinger’s films include the landmark documentaries BROTHER’S KEEPER, PARADISE LOST: THE CHILD MURDERS AT ROBIN HOOD HILLS, and METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER, a film that re-defined the rockumentary genre. CRUDE, about oil pollution in the Amazon Rainforest, debuted at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. The film, which won 22 human rights, environmental and film festival awards, recently triggered a high-profile First Amendment battle with oil-giant Chevron. In addition to his feature documentary work, Berlinger has created many hours of television as both a producer and director, including the Emmy-winning History Channel series 10 DAYS THAT UNEXPECTEDLY CHANGED AMERICA and the Emmy-nominated GRAY MATTER. He has directed and produced five seasons of the critically acclaimed Sundance Channel series ICONOCLASTS and directed/executive-produced the first season of MASTERCLASS, a new series for the Oprah Winfrey Network. His numerous HBO productions include ADDICTION, JUDGEMENT DAY and VIRTUAL CORPSE, and he has created series for VH1 and Court TV. His series THE WRONG MAN helped lead to the exoneration of Marty Tankleff, falsely imprisoned for 17 years for the killing of his parents. Berlinger’s dramatic television directorial credits include NBC’s acclaimed hit drama HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET, as well as the short-lived UPN/Dick Wolf series D.C. Berlinger’s Emmy-winning PARADISE LOST series for HBO helped spawn a worldwide movement to free “The West Memphis Three” from wrongful murder convictions. The director recently wrapped production in South Africa for a documentary about the 25th Anniversary of Paul Simon’s landmark Graceland album. Berlinger has also directed commercials and industrial films for such clients as Ford, Honda, Kodak and Tiffany & Co., and is represented for commercials by bicoastal/international @radical.media. That relationship was expanded in 2001 – Berlinger houses his production company, Third Eye Motion Picture Company, at @radical.media, running many of his television and feature projects through radical’s content division. Berlinger’s articles and photographs have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, ArtForum, Film Comment, and Aperture magazines. His book, METALLICA: THIS MONSTER LIVES, THE INSIDE STORY OF SOME KIND OF MONSTER, was published in 2004 by St. Martin’s Press. Joe Berlinger is a member of the DGA, the WGA, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the National Board of Review.