Rewind & Play, directed by Alain Gomis — known for films including Félicité (Grand Jury Prize winner at the 2017 Berlinale), Aujourd’hui and L’Afrance, will close out this 15th season of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange on WORLD Channel on Monday, May 1. The documentary presents a snapshot into the personality and talent of pioneering jazz composer and pianist Thelonious Monk by way of a disastrous and often shockingly disrespectful interview he experiences in Paris at the height of his career.
Rewind & Play transports viewers to 1969, offering an intimate look at an uncomfortable interview Monk did with French State television while on tour in Europe. The film presents unused rushes from Monk’s interview with Henri Renaud, a French jazz pianist. Though Monk was already a jazz legend known as an architect of the bebop genre and as the composer of standards including “Round Midnight” and “Well You Needn’t,” the archival rushes show that Renaud was more interested in presenting his own ideas of who Monk was rather than letting the American jazz musician speak his truth. In a long, exhaustive interview, filled with misunderstandings, condescension and preconceived notions, Monk rises above the stops and restarts demanded by the interviewer. As he speaks with Renaud and performs his songs, the music titan brings his own cadence and rhythms back into the taping.
Rewind & Play, which presents no commentary on the 1969 interview, only audio and video from the rushes, offers contemporary viewers insight into Monk’s commitment to his music and craft as well as who he was as a person: someone with the intelligence and sensitivity to recognize and sidestep the disrespect that so many in the media often directed at Black artists.
The film will have its broadcast premiere on Monday, May 1, at 8 p.m. Eastern (7 p.m. Central) on WORLD Channel and is available for streaming now as part of the season of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange on worldchannel.org, WORLD’s YouTube Channel, Black Public Media’s YouTube Channel, PBS.org and the PBS app.