In 2011, for a story on Group Doueh, I ended ended up interviewing Sublime Frequencies co-founder and part-time Portland resident Hisham Mayet. Enamored as I was with Doueh, I came away even more interested in Mayet.
He's got one of the coolest jobs ever: Approximately six months each year, Mayet travels the globe particularly Africa, on the hunt for great bands to share with the rest of the world. Since the early '00s Mayet has been integral to the international success of many, including Omar Souleyman, Bombino, and Group Inerane. In musical terms, when it comes to opening ears, Mayet is one of the most influential Portlanders ever.
But Mayet is more than a guy running a label. He's a modern-day Alan Lomax, trekking to far-out locales, focused on field recordings moreso than pushing artists into studios. A lot of that archival work includes video as well. Indeed, Mayet's been shooting since the beginning.
Which brings us to the this weekend's offering: a screening of Mayet's latest film, Vodoun Gods on the Slave Coast. A brief overview:
Hisham Mayet’s exploration of West African possession ceremonies continues in Benin. Benin is the cradle and birthplace of Voodoo. Formally known as the Slave Coast as, most of the slave industry was exported from its shores. Voodoo worship is integral to the every day lives of the people of Benin. This film, shot in 2010 during the country’s rich Vodoun celebrations, is an impressionistic lens on the myriad ceremonies that this rich and diverse culture has to offer. Showcasing intimate observations of a variety of Voodoo ceremonies: The cult of Sakpata (god of Pestilence and healing), Egoun dramas shrouded in magisterial costumes and the Secret Police of the Zangbeto night watchmen, among other highlights.
After Vodoun, Mayet will screen The Divine River, which boasts a "new and final cut." Also, he'll take questions. All together, the program is expected to run about two hours.