About the Film

A Portrait of a Musical Work and a Rich Cultural Tradition

‘Tempo Rubato' is a documentary film depicting the creative origins and rhythmic roots of a new jazz composition by the acclaimed New York-based Colombian percussionist and composer, Samuel Torres. His album, 'Forced Displacement,' written as a tribute to the victims of the Colombian conflict, takes him on a journey to the roots of Afro-Colombian music and the communities in which it plays an important social role.

Torres travels to the Caribbean coastal region of Urabá, Colombia – an area previously too dangerous to travel through due to continual conflict over land, drug routes and politics. There he meets with Emilsen Pacheco, a master musician of an African-descended folkloric music that foregrounds the drum as the main ‘voice’ of the music. Pacheco explains the history and resilience of the people who keep this music alive, giving a glimpse into the struggles his community faces in preserving their culture.

Back in New York, we see the new musical work taking shape during rehearsals, performances, and finally, the recording of the work by the Samuel Torres Group – an assemblage of world-class musicians hand-picked by the composer to bring his project to life. The album - a Latin jazz suite for 8-piece ensemble - is very different in style from the folkloric music that inspired it. But the work is an expression of the musician’s journey in reconnecting with his roots, and a tribute to the preservation of Colombia’s folkloric heritage.

An elusive peace is finally emerging in Colombia, ending decades of conflict between government forces, leftist guerillas and narcotraffickers, which left over 200,000 dead, and 6 million people displaced – including a disproportionate number of those in the Afro-Colombian regions of the Caribbean. As the country embarks on a new chapter of stability, this film gives us get an inside glimpse into Colombia’s complicated history and its rich musical traditions.

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