Synopsis: Award-winning filmmaker Andrea E. Leland collaborated with James Brewster to create a 70-minute documentary and archiving project. The result of their collaboration is a spirited musical journey to the Caribbean focusing on Scratch band music (also known as Quelbe) , an indigenous, grass-roots form of folk music from the Virgin Islands that was recently declared the “official” music of the Virgin Islands.
79-year old James Brewster, the central character of this documentary, is an uncompromising, humorous, and provocative musician known for his playful compositions and lively performances and is the legendary “King of Scratch”.
This engaging documentary includes performances by Jamesie and the All-Stars at a St. Croix nightclub; an agricultural fair on St. Croix; the World Music Festival and the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago; the Lotus Music Festival in Bloomington, Indiana; jamming with his friends; and performing and teaching in Denmark. Interspersed with these performances is more intimate footage of Jamesie talking with other musicians about the historical significance of the music and explaining how he came to create some of his songs and footage at his home revealing his more personal side . The documentary celebrates Scratch band music and one of it's most legendary performers. It provides a unique opportunity to view up close and personal the US Virgin Islands' deep-rooted musical tradition.
Awards / Screenings:
Reelworld Film Festival, Toronto
Bahamas International Film Festival
Dominican International Film Festival
Bay Street Film Festival, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada: People's Choice Award
Turks and Caico’s Film Festival
Globians International Documentary Film Festival, Potsdam, Germany
Women's International Film Festival
Santa Cruz Film Festival
Aarhus Film Festival, Denmark
Caribbean Studies Association Conference, Brazil
Park City Music Film Festival: GOLD MEDAL for Best Documentary on a Musical Subject
2009 Muestra Internacional de Cine Documental y Etnográfico en Puerto Rico
Pan African Film Festival, NYC
Trinidad and Tobago International Film Festival
Parnu International Documentary and Anthropology Film Festival Estonia
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"The King of Scratch" is a fascinating, poignant, sensitive and timely look at an artist…”
- Eileen Moore Quinn
“The complex cultural context of quelbe, the official music of the US Virgin Islands, is demonstrated brilliantly. Quelbe is a living art form, not an antiquated piece to be studied in isolation as something that 'once was'. This film brings the vibrancy and character of the islands and their music to life. Nice work, Andrea!"
- Diane Baxter
Western Oregon University
“A tasty profile, this is recommended.”
- Video Librarian