This Thursday night brings a unique cross-cultural celebration to Toronto’s arts calendar, a must-do for film, dance and live music fans alike. Join the Ashkenaz Foundation and the International Diaspora Film Fest at the Opening Night of the IDFF for the screening of El Gusto followed by a live concert with Ventanas on Thursday, November 1, 2012 at Innis Town Hall (2 Sussex Ave, Toronto).
Starting at 7 p.m., catch the Canadian Premiere of Safinez Bousbia’s El Gusto (2011), a stunning Algerian/Irish film depicting the fascinating history of Algerian Chaabi music and its original Jewish and Arabic practitioners, now scattered from North Africa to France. Chaabi is a genre of popular Algerian music that arose out of a felicitous melding of Berber melodies, religious chants and Andalusian tunes. Looked down upon for decades as suited only to the lower classes, it began to find legitimacy in the 1930s under the inspired tutelage of El Hadj M’Hamed El Anka, who founded a conservatory to train young men as professional musicians. Bousbia’s interest was sparked in 2004 when she went into Mohamed Ferkioui’s small antique shop in Algiers to buy a mirror, and came away with a wealth of stories about El Anka’s conservatory, which Ferkioui attended. Over the ensuing years, an architecture student in Ireland traced all of El Anka’s students as still alive, scattered around Algiers or residing in Paris and Marseille. Their stories reflect the mid-20th-century history of Algiers’ Casbah, a warren of alleyways that for centuries was home to the city’s working class, mainly Muslims and Jews.
El Gusto won the Arab-World Documentary’s Prize at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival in 2012. It is 88 minutes and in Arabic & French with English Subtitles. Click here to watch the El Gusto trailer.
The evening will continue with a live performance and reception at 8:45 p.m., featuring Toronto-based urban folk group Ventanas* and professional flamenco dancer and choreographer Ilse Gudino. Ilse and Ventanas join forces to create CADENAS, merging their cross-cultural worlds of music and dance. Click here for a preview of Cadenas.
*Ventanas is a Toronto-based urban folk band that draws musical inspiration from the diverse cultural backgrounds of its members. From Spain to Turkey, Ventanas explores many musical forms and languages from flamenco palos to Balkan rhythms, from Sephadic diaspora to Hutsul Ukraine. At Ashkenaz Festival 2012, hundreds lined up to see Ventanas’ beautiful show at Harbourfront Centre. Don’t miss out on this fantastic and intimate opportunity to enjoy their music once more!
The IDFF is offering advance ticket purchase for the film and concert at separate admission prices; $10 for the film and $10 for the live performance + reception. For separate admission tickets and full IDFF program details, call 416-571-2150 or visit diasporafilmfest.com.
The Ashkenaz Foundation is offering a discounted full event ticket price of $15, including film screening, live concert + reception. Available only through the Ashkenaz office by calling 416-979-9901 before Thursday November 1 at 12 p.m. Limited quantity available.