Film Review – We Rock Long Distance


Becca Martin-Marx

“I can’t stand all that short music. We dance long distance here…”  a quote from Afro-Beat artist Fela Kuti from which a title was born. Filmmaker Justin Schell was proud as he introduced his Doc several years in the making, the impetus an encounter with the film’s subjects. What follows is a snapshot into the artistic journeys of Minneapolis hip hop artists M.anifest, Maria Isa and Tou Saiko Lee.

The concept that an artist can claim more than one homeland was proved through making music within and outside of their roots, and the intersection where it comes together. M.anifest visited Ghana spending time with his grandfather, Prof. J.H.Nketia a lauded African Ethnomusicologist. Isa has deep Puerto Rican roots from New York but calls herself a “Sota Rican” identifying and honoring all 3 cultures. Lee visited Thailand to make music with his Laotian family who are dislocated just as he was.

Stellar content and beautiful location filming enriched the film helping to minimize the highly edited and sterile forum-like discussions that stood out in stark contrast to the vibrant artists. A worthy film that does prove that “home is where the heart is” and the heart cannot be tied down.


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