This personal documentary about music critic Robert Palmer and his musical family, The Master Musicians of Jajouka, was a Critic’s Pick at New York Magazine, who called it “deeply compelling.” The documentary, which screened at New York’s Anthology Film Archives as well as at a broad range of film festivals in 2009 and 2010, features interviews with Anthony DeCurtis, Stephen Davis, Donovan, Bill Laswell, Yoko Ono, Genesis P. Orridge, and Randy Weston as well as a performance by The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar. Directed by Robert Palmer’s daughter, Augusta Palmer, The Hand of Fatima combines live action footage of the her 2007 visit to the village of Jajouka with animations and archival images that bring to life her father’s 1970s experiences in the Moroccan village of Jajouka, as well as his subsequent trips there with Ornette Coleman and others.
Brion Gysin was a Renaissance man in a century with a 15-second attention span. In a world where people are known for “doing one thing well,” Brion mastered a variety of disciplines which he employed to express himself at any given moment. Gysin was a painter, author, editor, musical anthropologist, inventor, philosopher, mystic and restaurateur. And to add insult to injury, he wore each of those hats with ease and remarkable panache. Surrealist ringleader André Breton, Beat novelist William S. Burroughs and Rolling Stone Brian Jones all recognized his brilliance, yet Brion’s work for some reason went virtually unnoticed by the public.
As an artist, Gysin painted otherworldly figures that danced around the canvas like cryptic Arabic and Japanese calligraphy. He was embraced and then quickly expelled (for vague reasons) by the Surrealists. In truth, Brion simply wasn’t the type to espouse the party platform, no matter how bizarre the doctrine. (Although he’s been associated with the Beats through his connection to Burroughs, Gysin would never claim to be one of that clubby bunch either.)