12:19pm

Thu April 28, 2011
Monkey See

Culturetopia: Without The Guitars Edition

This week's round of up of some of NPR's best arts stories includes a piece by Frannie Kelley of NPR Music. Puzzled by a particularly insane-sounding press release for a band called Delicate Steve, she did a little digging and discovered a bizarre music industry prank. As she puts it, "everything you know about this band is wrong."

A legendary figure in the world of reggae and dub, Lee "Scratch" Perry is the subject of a new documentary. He's also releasing a new album on the heels of his 75th birthday — he tells NPR that he's more relevant than ever before, thanks to the electronic musicians who have embraced him.

Another story of music from abroad comes from Medellin, Colombia. Most Americans associate the country's second-largest city with drug wars, but Medellin has successfully started a system that allows its citizens to help decide how to allocate public money. And that's benefited a local hip hop band that's grown over the years into a dedicated social force that helps poverty-stricken children get free music classes and helps musicians from the slums find jobs.

Film critic Bob Mondello gives a glowing review to Incendies, a drama about siblings who learn shattering secrets when their mother's will sends them to unearth her past in the Middle East. Incendies was Canada's entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Ocars this year, and NPR producer Bilal Qureshi has a piece about how an increasing number of prestigious foreign films are actually pan-global. Incendies is a French Canadian film filmed mostly in Jordan. Mexico's Oscar entry, Biutiful, follows Chinese and African immigrants in Spain, and the winner, In A Better World, juxtaposes a Danish village with a refugee camp in Africa.

Bilal has a terrific line: "Maybe this year's nominees do say something about Canada, France, Mexico or Denmark. For these are films about what it means to live in the world today - stories of the uprooted and the rootless."

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