‘One Hand Don’t Clap’ Documentary by Kavery Kaul will make it’s U.S. Restoration Premiere at MoMA
Kavery Kaul’s award-winning 1988 documentary One Hand Don’t Clap chronicling the titans of calypso and soca music will make its U.S. restoration premiere at the Museum of Modern Art this January 27th and 31st, 2023.
To Save and Project festival has become the museum’s showcase for presenting new restorations from its archive, as well as work from colleagues around the world engaged in maintaining and presenting precious audiovisual heritage.
Digitally restored by the Academy Film Archive and the Women’s Film Preservation Fund of New York Women in Film & Television with additional support from the Leon Levy Foundation, One Hand Don’t Clap reflects the legacy of a vast West Indian-American population, the incredible entrepreneurial growth of their music industry in the US, and their ongoing ties to the traditions that flourish in the Caribbean.
“seductively rhythmic and poetic…Not just about music and musicians, but an examination of cultures. A credit to the film and its creators.”
~ New York Newsday
Historically acting as an avenue for political expression, lyrics frequently illuminate topical themes that continue to resonate.
“Solomon, why the hell you harassing me? You can see that both of us can’t agree. Every day is a fighting’ inside the place. You treat me bad, you black and blue up my face.”
~ Calypso Rose, Solomon (Steppin’ Out album, 1986)
Captured is the vibrant story of calypso and the emergence of soca, or soul calypso, through the eyes of two legendary artists. In One Hand Don’t Clap, Lord Kitchener (1922-2000), the Grandmaster of the music and Calypso Rose (b. 1940), the first woman to break through in a traditionally male arena, move with the infectious rhythms and forceful irreverence of calypso music.
Kitchener addresses the musicality of calypso, the significance of its origins and its accessibility to broader audience. “The foreigner is not so acquainted with this beat. Because when he was born, he was born in 4/4 time”, laughs Lord Kitchener, his first album recorded in London in 1948, just before Harry Belafonte turned the international spotlight on calypso. When Rose won the crown at the 1978 Carnival time competition, the old title of Calypso King gave way to the reign of the new Calypso Monarch.
Additional performer appearances include David Rudder (b. 1953), Black Stalin (b. 1941), Growling Tiger (1916-1993), Lord Pretender (1917-2002), The Mighty Duke (1932-2009) and Natasha Wilson (b.1975?). With the deaths of Kitchener, and the even older Growling Tiger and Lord Pretender, the many generations in Kaul’s film trace the evolution of a musical style.
One Hand Don’t Clap originally premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and enjoyed theatrical runs in the US and Japan. Critics called One Hand Don’t Clap “an enticing introduction to an appealing and unique form of music” (New York Post). Down Beat predicted, “Along with Don’t Look Back, the best of all is One Hand Don’t Clap. This’ll look — and sound — just as good 25 years from now.”