December 1969, Thelonious Monk arrives in Paris. Before his evening concert, he recorded a program for French television. The rushes that have been preserved show us a Thelonious Monk who is rare, close, and in the grip of the violent factory of stereotypes from which he tries to escape. The film becomes the crossing of this great artist, who would like to exist only for his music. And the portrait in the hollow of a media machine is as ridiculous as revolting.
To an awfully true musician, it’s painful to speak in languages other than music. That’s how it was for the legendary jazz pianist Thelonious Monk in French TV shows after his European tour. No interpreter stood between the native English speaker Monk and the show host whose English wasn’t fluent. Only uncanny tension and honest beads of sweat stood between the two, as they tried to conduct sparse Q&A. The documentary is composed of edited footage from 1969, and its raw vividness brings the scenes into life.(Nam Sunwoo)
The Franco-Senegalese filmmaker made his directorial debut in 2002 with L’Afrance, a film about the struggles of migrants in France which won a Silver Leopard at Locarno Film Festival. His film Félicité(2017) was shown in competition at Berlinale and won Grand Jury Prize, a second Gold Stallion at Fespaco, and represented Senegal at the Oscars where it was shortlisted for Best Foreign Language Film.