The Savoy King: Chick Webb and the Music that Changed America

  • Featured_exhib_film_the-savoy-king

    The Savoy King: Chick Webb and the Music that Changed America


The Savoy King: Chick Webb and the Music that Changed America


Wednesday Feb 20 01:00 PM
Wednesday Feb 20 07:30 PM


Doris Duke Theatre


Museum members: $8.00
General Admission: $10.00


About the Film:

Directed by Jeff Kaufman. USA, 2012, 90 mins. Hawaii premiere

Swing-era drummer-bandleader Chick Webb broke his back as a boy and faced life as a hunchback dwarf afflicted with spinal tuberculosis. Despite his hardships, he virtually invented modern drumming and went on to lead the hottest band of the 1930s—the Savoy Ballroom’s house band—playing with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie. This toe-tapping portrait recreates Webb’s energetic presence through eye-popping archival footage of performances and dancers, modern-day interviews, and an all-star cast (including Bill Cosby, Billy Crystal, and Danny Glover) who bring some of the greatest figures in jazz history to life. No less than Harry Belafonte calls the film “an important contribution to our knowledge and our history.” Official Selection: New York and Seattle International Film Festivals.

View the trailer.

Special guest: Jeff Kaufman, writer-director of The Savoy King, will introduce the film at 1 + 7:30pm, and lead a post-screening Q&A.

In addition to The Savoy King, Kaufman has produced eight short films for Amnesty International, including a video for AI/USA’s new Maternal Mortality campaign, and a profile of former Mexican prisoner of conscience Gen. Jose Gallardo (featuring Edward James Olmos).

Kaufman also produced and directed the feature documentary Brush With Life: The Art of Being Edward Biberman. In addition, he has produced, written, and/or directed programs for The Discovery Channel (including a special on the World Trade Center Recovery effort), The History Channel, The Learning Channel, and a documentary on the history of the series COPS. He also produced a video on behalf of Iranian-American political prisoner Haleh Esfandiari (featuring Tyne Daly), the bio-film for the Howard Dean presidential campaign (with director Doug Liman), and a short pro bono film for the Lower 9th Ward Health Clinic in New Orleans.

Prior to his documentary work, Kaufman hosted and produced daily political/cultural talk radio programs in Los Angeles and Vermont; contributed cartoons to The New Yorker and illustrations to the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times; wrote and illustrated several children’s books; and exhibited paintings in a number of galleries.

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