Separado! Gruff Rhys ac y gaucho cymraeg

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I finally saw this film today. I’d wanted to see it since I’d heard of its exist­ence, but not got round to it, but it was defin­itely worth the wait. Gruff Rhys from the Super Furry Anim­als saw a sing­er on Welsh tv in the 70s who used to go onstage wear­ing a poncho and riding a horse, and then sing flamenco and samba songs in Welsh with an Argen­tini­an accent, and he was spell­bound. His grand­moth­er told him it was René Grif­fiths, a distant uncle of his from South Amer­ica. An ancest­or of his in the 1800s joined the Welsh colony in Patago­nia after acci­dent­ally killing his cous­in in a rigged horse race.

A couple of years ago he was given the chance to make a film while promot­ing his solo album, and he decided to go over to Argen­tina to track down his relat­ive and see some of the parts of the coun­try that still speak Welsh, and play his music along the way. The result­ing film is really charm­ing, a sort of gentle psyche­del­ic road trip, like a cosy version of El Topo with added music and social comment­ary. Gruff Rhys has always seemed like a very affable man. He plays his own music in the film (some­times to audi­ences of bemused old Welsh-Argen­tini­an old ladies), and also befriends other musi­cians along the way, and includes their perform­ances. The film’s in Welsh, English and Span­ish (and a tiny bit of Portuguese), with English subtitles on the non-English parts. You also get to hear a lot of South Amer­ic­an Welsh, not some­thing you see on screen much.

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