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8th edition: 10 April - 14 April 2019

How They Got Over (2018 Feature Film)

Robert CLEM | USA | 2017 | doc | color / black-and-white | DCP | 87' | English | n.s.

MUSIC CALLS_Rock 'n' roll’s roots aren’t just rhythm and blues, but go much further back to 1930s gospel quartet music. A surfeit of musical clips illustrates how harmony singing gradually evolved into an upbeat spectacle with electrical instruments and, ultimately, more worldly lyrics.

Legendary musicians like James Brown got their ideas from the impressive, dramatic performances of Afro-American gospel quartets that played in churches, on local radio stations and, later, at concert halls starting in the 1930s. The music documentary How They Got Over about the evolution of these quartets illustrates how this often originally religious harmony singing developed into more secular songs with instruments, multiple vocalists, passion, and sold-out shows. These singing men and women were musical precursors to famous genres such as doo-wop, rhythm and blues, soul, Motown and rock 'n' roll.

A number of octogenarian singers regale us with tales of their road trips across the South of the United States when they played for peanuts to make their names. Their stories and those of other genre lovers are augmented by seldom-seen archival footage of concerts by the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and many others.

Place: The Cinemas 5

Date: 12 April 2018

Time: 17:30

Duration: 1:06

Place: The Cinemas 5

Date: 13 April 2018

Time: 22:00

Duration: 1:06

Place: The Cinemas 5

Date: 14 April 2018

Time: 12:45

Duration: 1:06

Year in Festival
Robert CLEM
J. Alan Hostetter
Tommy Wier
Robert Clem
Robert Clem
Mike Tannen
Production Company
One State Films
Tannen Media Ventures
One State Films
Robert Clem
Year of Production
Robert CLEM

American filmmaker Robert CLEM earned an MFA from New York University’s film school and attended the Sundance Institute Writer/Director’s Lab. His films explore the complex culture and history of his native state Alabama and the south of the United States. In the 90s, he produced and directed dramas for the US National Public Radio. His first feature documentary Big Jim Folsom:  The Two Faces of Populism (1997), about Alabama’s racially diverse, populist revolt in the 40s won the Int’l Documentary Association ABCNews VideoSource Award. 


Big Jim Folsom: The Two Faces of Populism (1997, doc), War Birds: Diary of an Unknown Aviator (2003, doc), Company K (2004), In the Wake of the Assassins (2007), Eugene Walter: Last of the Bohemians (2008, doc), Malbis Plantation (2010, Jefferson County Sound (2011), The Passion of Miss Augusta (2014), The Two Worlds of William March (2016), How They Got Over (2017, doc)