Published Mar 01, 2006Anyone who's come across singer and spoken word artist Michael Franti knows he's very serious in his social convictions. For his latest political statement, the Spearhead front-man adds film director to his already formidable skill set, with a guerrilla-style documentary about life in war torn areas of the Middle East.
I Know I'm Not Alone documents Franti's recent travels though Iraq, Israel and Palestine, and while you'd be forgiven for immediately imagining Sean Penn and his publicity-craving ilk, the film promises to be so much more than the vacation video of an innocent idealist. Armed with little more than a small film crew, a guitar, and a desire to see what doesn't make the news, the singer sets out to capture the true thoughts and emotions of these affected nations. Throughout the story, Franti acts as a conduit for everyone impacted by the years of war, from average citizens, newly liberated artists and bedridden hospital patients, to the overstressed American and Israeli occupying forces. Hasty escapes from a bomb blast, previously forbidden tattoo parlor visits and a stop at Iraq's first independent radio station colour his tale.
Tying all the many images and events together are, of course, Franti's songs, which he uses not only to draw people out of their protective shells, but also to mediate meetings assumed impossible between people on either side of the difficult conflicts. Those inspired songs, crafted both during and since filming, will reach the ears of most Canadians for the first time when the musical firebrand takes the doc and his guitar across the country through March and April, making stops in Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, Edmonton, Calgary, Victoria and Vancouver. Toronto residents who missed their chance last November will, unfortunately, have to do a little travelling themselves if they hope to catch a screening of Michael Franti's latest humanitarian push.