American Documentary Film Festival Breaks Records

Festival features performance by South African opera singers featured in documentary

At the American Documentary Film Festival after-party at the Purple Room in Palm Springs were (from left) co-owners Tony Marchese and Mark Van Laanen with director Oliver Stone.

Photo by Ann Greer


The American Documentary Film Festival and Film Fund (AmDocs) presented 130 documentary films from around the world March 27-31 at three theaters in the Coachella Valley: the Camelot in Palm Springs, Helene Galen Cultural Center in Rancho Mirage, and Indian Wells Theater at the Palm Desert campus of Cal State University San Bernardino.

The festival is the largest documentary fest in the United States and was founded by filmmaker and festival director Teddy Grouya.

A sold-out crowd filled the Camelot Theater March 27 to see  I Live to Sing, the opening-night documentary. This unique and beautifully produced and directed film follows the path of three young South African singers, who rise from the black townships to success in the absorbing world of opera.

The film traces South Africa’s emergence from the struggles of apartheid to the election of President Nelson Mandella and the dedication and struggles of these singers trained at the University of Cape Town’s once all-white opera school.

The documentary was directed by Emmy winner Julie Cohen, who attended the West Coast premiere at the Camelot accompanied by Kamal Khan, director of University of Capetown’s opera school, soprano Linda Nteleza, tenor Makudupanyane Senaoano and bass-baritone Thesele Kemane.

The singers performed following the film with Khan at the piano, and then answered questions from the audience during the Q&A session. Kemane will continue his studies at Julliard School of Music in New York City next fall.

A jam packed after-party followed the festival opening at The Purple Room in Palm Springs.

After-party attendees included Oscar winning filmmaker Oliver Stone, who attended the opening of the festival and the world premiere of his Untold History of the United States, Episodes 6 and 10, followed by a Q&A March 28 at the Indian Wells Theater in Palm Desert.

The American Documentary Film Festival is a Palm Springs Cultural Center event and Nationwide Insurance was the Presenting Sponsor.

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