Banjo master Bela Fleck travels to Uganda, Tanzania, The Gambia and Mali to find the roots of his instrument and, more importantly, to meet and play with the various region's master musicians. That Fleck is shy and self-effacing works to enhance the film's ultimate theme: music as the universal language. If this sounds like cliched, feel-good territory, don't be fooled. There are some truly stunning musical moments, including scenes of Fleck jamming with astounding Malian guitarist Djelimady Tounkara and engaging in a John Lee Hooker-worthy blues duel with n'goni master Bassekou Kouyate. Director Sascha Paladino wisely keeps the focus on the African musicians, and the sound recording is superb, capturing thumb pianos, akonting, kamelengoni, drums and enormous marimbas in all their rough-hewn glory.
Thu., March 5, 8:30 p.m., 2009