SIFF Face the Music 2018 Preview: Rubén Blades Is Not My Name

Matthew Howland

Rubén Blades Is Not My Name
(Panama | 2018 | 85 minutes | dir: Abner Benaim)

Festival Screenings:
SUNDAY MAY 27 4 PM | SIFF Cinema Uptown
TUESDAY, JUNE 5 930 PM | Siff Cinema Egyptian

Few musicians have had a career quite like Panamanian musician, actor, and politician Rubén Blades. From the beginning of his political activism, spurred by the 1964 sovereignty riots in his native Panama, Blades has not sacrificed his ideals is a fifty-year career that has earned him international acclaim. The 2018 film Rubén Blades Is Not My Name, directed by Abner Benaim, follows the singer-songwriter as he heads out on his final tour. However, hardly a retirement, Blades ponders running again for Panama's presidency, which he previously attempted in 1994. Rubén Blades Is Not My Name mixes kinetic footage of the musician's tour with intimate explorations of his past career and testimonials from a variety of famed artists including Paul Simon and Sting. 

Blades, while perhaps less known to US audiences, has been described as the Bob Dylan of Latin America, a distinction that speaks of his elevation of folk traditions to a fine art. The musician's Siembra record, made with the great Willie Colón, was the best selling salsa record of all time, with over 25 million copies sold worldwide. The documentary succeeds in presenting Blades as at once an icon and human, his success not overshadowing his continued interest in humanity and the people of Latin America and Panama. 

Rubén Blades Is Not My Name has previously screened at SXSW Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award in the 24 Beats Per Second section. 

KEXP is a proud co-sponsor of the "Face the Music" series at the 2018 Seattle International Film Festival, running May 17 - June 10 in various theatres across the area. Follow along with all our coverage throughout the festival here.

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