Whether or not you’re a fan of Super Fury Animals and their frontman Gruff Rhys, you have to applaud the man’s diverse artistic output. The Welsh-born musician has collaborated with acts ranging from Mogwai to Simian Mobile Disco, and recently helped launch the career of Brazilian Tony Da Gatorra. After working with so many amazing artists, Rhys is now looking inward for his upcoming release.
Before teaming up with Gatorra in the studio, Rhys was busy filming a roadtrip movie entitled Separado!. The film, which Rhys wrote, co-directed, and scored, documents his attempt to meet up with his distant uncle, Rene Griffiths. Stress the word distant. Each share a 19th century family member named Dafydd Jones, who fled to Patagonia after unintentionally contributing to the death of his cousin. For all of you as poor at geography as myself, Patagonia is located in the south of South America. Jones relocation to Patagonia, which had already been settled by Welsh nationalists, led to a thriving Welsh community and the rise of the obscure Welsh-Argentina pop genre. In the 1970s Rene Griffiths would dominate this genre, mesmerizing audiences by arriving on horseback dressed in a cape, and singing in Welsh.
The film follows Rhys through the theaters, nightclubs, and desert tea houses of his native Wales, Brazil and the Argentine Andes as traces his ancestry, and tracks down his uncle. And much like Rhys’ music, Separado! balances weightier moments with a lurid imagery and a childlike playfulness. Aside from the many detours needed to discover the elusive Griffiths, the filming process had to overcome an array of obstacles including a near volcanic eruption and a penguin attach in the Peninsula Valdez. According to Rhys, “At worst, it’s a Borat-style search for someone. At best, it’s a musical road trip couched in a magical realist style.”
Separado! will make its American premiere this month at the Los Angeles Film Festival on the 24th and 26th, and Rhys will release the score as his next album. Tickets to the screening are still available here, and for all of us that cannot make it to LA for a movie expect a DVD release sometime this summer. In the meantime, check out the trailer below.