The feature music documentary Fandango at the Wall, directed by Varda Bar-Kar and Executive produced by Quincy Jones, Andrew Young, and Carlos Santana will premiere on HBO Latino, Friday, September 25. The film follows Multi-GRAMMY Award-winning musician Arturo O’Farrill and Multi-GRAMMY Award-winning producer Kabir Sehgal who journey to Veracruz, Mexico to recruit master musicians for a live album recording at the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
At the heart of the film is the “Fandango Fronterizo” music festival that takes place annually on both sides of the Tijuana-San Diego border. Jorge Francisco Castillo, who founded the festival, invites Sehgal and O’Farrill to Veracruz, Mexico to meet the masters of son jarocho, which is a 300-hundred-year-old folk music that combines indigenous, Spanish, and African traditions. They travel through the scenic countryside of Veracruz recruiting the best of these musicians to join them at the upcoming border festival. With musicians on both sides of the US-Mexico border wall, the festival becomes a celebration of friendship and unity. The film features remarkable and dynamic music that blends quintessential son jarocho songs with lush big band jazz arrangements.
“I appreciate HBO’s commitment to providing a platform for diverse filmmakers who tell compelling stories with authenticity, artistry, and layered meaning. I’m grateful that our cross-cultural collaboration that celebrates the richness of diversity will join the ranks of HBO’s magnificent programming,” said Varda Bar-Kar, the film’s director.
Fandango at the Wall features son jarocho legends Andrés Vega, Martha Vega, Ramón Gutiérrez, Wendy Cao Romero, Tacho Utrera, Fernando Guadarrama, and Patricio Hidalgo. There are special appearances by Regina Carter, Multi-GRAMMY Award nominee and MacArthur Foundation Fellow; Douglas Brinkley, CNN Historian; Mandy Gonzalez, who performs in Broadway’s Hamilton; The Villalobos Brothers; Rahim AlHaj, GRAMMY Award nominee; and Sahba Motallebi. As part of the project, there is already a released book and album with the same title published by Hachette and Resilience Music Alliance.
Fandango at the Wall recently finished its theatrical run at the Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, GA. It will also have its world festival premiere at the Atlanta Film Festival this month. NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA) & the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) will feature Fandango at the Wall on September 26, as part of the virtual NFMLA Film Festival, InFocus: Latinx & Hispanic Cinema. The film will also be presented at virtual film festivals like Cinequest, the Calgary International Film Fest, San Diego Latino Film Festival, and Port Townsend Film Festival, among others.
The film was produced in partnership with the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance.