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Ghetto, Renaissance, and Modern Oblivion
(English, 29 min.)
Written and directed by
An original project of
Made possible by the support of
NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò
After taking the international film festival circuit by storm with over 90 awards and counting to its name, Jessica Gould’s Babylon: Ghetto, Renaissance and Modern Oblivion makes its long awaited New York screen debut in the place where it all began. Coursing through four centuries of music history, Babylon considers the resonance of Psalm 137 (By the Waters of Babylon) through the music of two of history’s most marginalized peoples – Italian Jews of Mantua during the period of the Counter-Reformation, and African Americans before, during, and after the Harlem Renaissance.
The titanic-voiced Ezra Knight (The Tender Bar, Billions, Law and Order) narrates a journey through music, interweaving works from the ancient Kora virtuosi of Western Africa to the Italian-Jewish composer Salomone Rossi (1570 – 1630), to the young African-American composer Brandon Waddles (1988 –). Starring the groundbreaking Kaleidoscope Vocal Ensemble, the award winning soundtrack includes historical recordings by Ma Rainey, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Big Mama Thornton, The Fisk Jubilee Singers, as well as two luminaries in contemporary West African music – Kevin Nathaniel Hylton and Yacouba Sissoko.
Additional Rossi works include performances by the Bacchus Consort, Voices of Music, and Ms. Gould in collaboration with lutenist Lucas Harris.
Since its December 2020 première, Babylon has garnered over 90 laurels from film festivals across the globe, including the prestigious Violetta d’Oro prize of the Parma International Music Film Festival (the top prize of the festival) and Best International Film from the Asti International Film Festival. Other first place trophies for the short film hail from Cannes, Tokyo, Mykonos, Milan, Rome, London, Toronto, Belgrade, Naples, among many other cities.
Babylon is an original project of Salon/Sanctuary Concerts and made possible by the generous support of NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò.