An archive comes alive in these first official images from The Full English - a fourteen-minute documentary produced by João Paulo Simões/Frontier
Media, filmed in Cardiff/Wales in partnership with EventAmplifier and
featuring live performances from the award-winning folk music
Watch it Here. http://www.thefullenglishband.co.uk/
"As soon as that lengthy session at Yellow
Arch Studios came to an end, I knew that this track (which would later be known
as Insaaniyat) was the one.
This certainty was in part based on my
previous experience in working within those very same walls with Rafiki Jazz,
but my immersion in (and understanding of) the Declaration Kriol project made it very clear to me.
This song was authentic, robust and its tone delivered the core message of the
project - which is anchored in the 1948 Declaration of the Human Rights - in an
uncompromisingly poignant fashion.
But what I also felt was 'in trouble'. Regardless of my ample experience, the
way I had managed to cover the process felt insufficient, imperfect and lacking
in precision. Although I knew this was mostly due to certain idiosyncrasies of
how the song was composed, rehearsed and recorded (with a limited amount of
'full-length' takes), I also knew that I had to take responsibility. After all,
the film wouldn't be judged by how the recording session had been structured...
So my mind started working immediately. The artistic suggestion of making the
film monochrome had already been made and green-lit by Tony Bowring (director
of the Kriol project), but that was just the first creative step. Upon hearing
my discomfort, Tony also reminded me that we had footage from the other
sessions that we could (and probably should) include in the film. That wasn't
enough still. Quantity may bring practical options in the editing stage, but
was very far from the level of coherence and leap in quality that I wanted to
bring to it.
Very quickly it dawned on me that the
additional footage was going to have to come from elsewhere...
As a track, Insaaniyat is a juggernaut of
rhythm and melody, interweaving soulful vocals with sharp, hard-hitting rapping
- and establishing a dialogue between these and the other instruments.
It's a mighty full sound created by players who were few in numbers, but in
complete control of their 'weapons'. To put it in simpler terms: it's an
As a film, Insaaniyat set out to respect all this and honour the values
expressed in the Declaration of Human Rights; but also to surpass previous music
video work we had done with this kind of documentary-style approach. To cope
with the above-mentioned insufficiency of material, I set out to source for
(and incorporate) documentary archive footage that would evoke everything the
project stands for; and that would bring a sense of historical perspective to
Hours were spent looking at royalty-free videos online, until a mixed bag of
old colonial films and contemporary news reels was created and imported into
the editing software. This would generate a wide range of technical
incompatibilities at a later stage, but with those as a 'safety net', I could
finally face the outcome of that session.
Together with the above-mentioned interweaving of vocals and sound, the
breathless pace the track gradually evolves into invited me to employ certain
cinematic techniques, such as dissolves and double (or triple) exposures. These
also helped to emphasise the sense of communion one experiences in such
sessions - and came to highlight the Jazz in Rafiki, with further stylisation.
The result is a very dynamic cadence of
studio imagery, with an aesthetical brevity that reminds us of how ephemeral
The archive footage, which I circumscribed to specific geographic sources,
plays a part in this too. I felt a great sense of compassion for those faces captured
so long ago on celluloid; the way they remain eternally exposed in their aspirations
- and desperation.
Executive decisions were made every step of the way with this additional
How much roughness to maintain. How much to stylise and manipulate...
If the old footage was somewhat made even
older, the war content was to embrace ‘pixelation’ full on. After all, that has
become the language of worldwide conflict made viral across social media.
The fact that I was completing the final
sections of the film (which involve this kind of content) at the same time as
Britain was gearing up (with all its imperialistic delusion) to take military
action on Syria, made me realise that Insaaniyat works on a more subtle level
than planned or envisaged. It's a metaphor for what we've been progressively
turning our backs to. For what we once were...
The process of putting this film together was long, detailed and fastidious,
but extremely rewarding too.
To call it a labour of love would be a cliché and inaccurate. It was more like
a passionate affair. Because that's the only way I can conceive to work: with
passion." - Extracted from Reaching The Junction, the Transmitting Musical Heritage report by João Paulo Simões;