Return of the Tüdelband

A white American rapper discovers his Hamburg musical roots in unusual pan-generational docu "Return of the Tüdelband." A vivid example of popular music´s durability and elasticity - not to mention cultural heritage of the city itself - pic is a snug fit for music- and/or Jewish-themed fests, with tube play more likely than theatrical, and some niche ancillary assured.

Marin County singer Dan Wolf journeys from California to Germany, intent on exploring his grandfather´s legacy: in the 1930s, the Brothers Wolf had a thriving career interrupted by the Nazis, and their novelty tune "Tüdelband" (named for the iron hoop toy favored by children), performed in "Plattdeutsch" regional dialect, remains a cherished local ditty today. Informed and inspired by newfound German heritage, Wolf explores the area, and, with his rap ensemble Felonious, performs a multicultural repertoire that includes a modern interpretation of his grandfather´s signature song. Helmer Jens Huckeriede´s approach is thorough if somewhat stolid; though seemingly an unlikely rap artist, Wolf´s sincerity and the sheer serendipity of his tale are persuasive. Tech credits are scruffy yet satisfactory. Pic world-preemed in September at Hamburg fest; Euro-published book and CD tie-ins enhance the experience.

Camera (DV), Bernd Meiners; editor, Maria Hemmleb; music, Roland Musolff. Reviewed on videocassette, Wheaton, Md., Dec. 12, 2003. (In Hamburg Film Festival.) Running time: 82 MIN. (English, German dialogue)

by Eddie Cockrell
Variety, Dec. 18, 2003

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