Known for his Latin big-band arrangements, Arturo O'Farrill can take a song—be it a classic mambo or an Afrobeat banger—and render it in a sort of cinematic grandeur, so it seems fitting that the Fandango At the Wall project gets the film-festival, HBO treatment.
You can watch a documentary on O’Farrill’s trip to the Tijuana-San Diego border on HBO Latino on Fri., Sept. 25 with additional HBO broadcasts scheduled for the subsequent days, or stream it via HBO Max in the United States. You can watch the trailer for it right here:
The Fandango Fronterizo Festival is an annual event that has taken place on both sides of the border since 2008, wherein musicians and music fans gather near the beach and wall, to eat and jam on son jarocho, music from Veracruz, Mexico with a 300-year history.
After candidate-then-president Donald Trump made a wall between the U.S. and Mexico a plank of his platform in 2015, the social importance of demonstrating the cultural ties that predate and transcend the border seemed heightened. So, festival founder Jorge Francisco Castillo called in the Grammy winners, inviting O’Farrill and producer Kabir Sehgal to the festivities.
The trip has already yielded an album of O’Farrill and his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra playing with son jarocho musicians, as well as special guests from the worlds of Broadway, Latin hip-hop and Middle Eastern music; a book about the border and now a feature-length documentary, which takes viewers on a tour of Veracruz, the long-time incubator of indigenous Spanish and African traditions and, as such, the home of son jarocho and many players at the Fandango.
The documentary is making the rounds at film events, premiering at the Atlanta Film Festival, and featured this weekend by the New Filmmakers Los Angeles and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as well as a number of virtual film festivals. But as long as you have an HBO password, you’re welcome to skip the red carpet.