Film Reviews

Doc Edge Film Review: Miguelito (2019)

David Boyle

Welcome to the Oscar-qualifying Doc Edge Film Festival 2020. Life Unscripted. Online Nationwide in New Zealand from Friday 12 June until Sunday 5 July.

In consideration of the Covid-19 pandemic and New Zealand’s robust efforts to keep everyone healthy, inspired and motivated — we are proud to introduce the first ever entirely online film festival and free schools programme exclusive to New Zealand audiences and communities across the country.

We want to offer as much of a true film festival experience as possible online with scheduled screenings to watch with friends and family and Q&A sessions with filmmakers. Browse our full line-up of 83 of the world’s best documentary feature films and shorts here.

Miguelito  is scheduled for June 13th.

Miguelito has been described as the Caribbean "Searching for Sugarman” since its release on the Film Festival circuit last year. That was exactly what I thought too as I started to follow the story trail though New York and Columbia in the early seventies.

This is a tale about an eleven-year-old child called Miguelito, who was discovered singing in the San Juan airport by the legendary New York record producer Harvey Averne. Within the year he went from the slums of Manuel A Perez, to recording an album with some of the finest salsa musicians of the time, to finally performing with Eddie Palmieri at Madison Square Garden in front of 20,000 people. And then he simply disappeared.

This is Sam Zubrycki’s first feature film and it was an intriguing choice given the possible options that are out there around music and its origins. That said I chose to review this movie more for the music (which I had little knowledge of)) and the insights I hoped to gain around Salsa music and what it might have been like in its heyday.  On this topic I was not disappointed.

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Image Provided

Zubrycki provides a majestic backdrop to the era with some wonderful old vintage movie footage and music from the day and, of course, the album that came out from what was probably the youngest recorded Salsa singer at that time.  An incredible amount of time and effort went into this film and, even if you don’t like the music, it is a glimpse of a world gone by that in itself was an unexpected gem in a very dark tunnel of human emotion.

The way Zubrycki captured the essence of that time and brought it back to life today is commendable. The characters are intriguing, the story itself is not that unfamiliar, and for a first up full feature film well worth a look indeed. If nothing else, to understand the difference of Salsa New York style to the original in Columbia, and what caused it might surprise you.

 

Written By: David Boyle David’s day job is head of sales and marketing at Mint Asset Management. It doesn’t sound very rock and roll does it? But don’t be put off, he is passionate about music and has been nearly all his life. Better known as Boylee, he can’t sing a note in tune, remember a complete song lyric, nor play an instrument of any sort, but he does have an eye-opening knowledge of modern music and is never shy to share it with his friends and peers.