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

For more biographies, see, and

For more information on the directors (in French), see

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