Documentary on Guadeloupe’s Chevalier de Saint George: “Mozart Noir à Cuba”

As part of their “Paris in September” series to be held September 2-4, 2011, the African Diaspora Film Festival (ADFF) will present Steve and Stéphanie James’ Mozart Noir à Cuba (Guadeloupe/Cuba, 2006, in French and Spanish). Mozart Noir à Cuba [Black Mozart in Cuba] is a documentary dedicated to the life and work of Chevalier de Saint George (Guadeloupe; 1745-1799), an accomplished composer, violonist, and conductor, an “athletic, musical, and military hero who became a superstar” in 18th century France.

Biography: Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George [Knight of Saint-George], was born on Christmas day, 1745, in the French-Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, to a Senegalese slave and a French colonialist. Saint-George was a breakthrough composer and violin virtuoso who came to be called “Le Mozart Noir.” He became the first black man to lead France’s most important orchestras. Saint-George was also Europe’s finest fencer, a master horseman, elite musketeer, infamous playboy, and a colonel who led an army in the French Revolution. Described by poets of his day as a “French Hercules,” “a veritable Mars,” and a “rival of Apollo,” Saint-George stands out as one of the most extraordinary figures of the 18th century.

Musically Saint George may very well have been the “King of Pop” of his age; militarily he helped prevent what could have been the early collapse of the French Revolution. The vicissitudes of his journey are dramatic: from a young outsider in Paris to the dizzying heights of superstardom in pre-Revolutionary France (“The Famous Saint George”) to an utterly tragic end in which a man whose company had once been fought over by royalty and great aristocrats, died alone, unmarried and destitute.

Depiction of Chevalier de Saint George from http://africlassical.blogspot.com/2009/01/myrtle-hart-society-violin-in-black.html

For more biographies, see http://www.chevalierdesaintgeorge.com/bio_fulltext.html, http://www.chevalierdesaintgeorge.com/main.html and http://chevalierdesaintgeorges.homestead.com/page1.html#3

For more information on the directors (in French), see http://www.potomitan.info/gwadloup/mozart_noir.php

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