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  • Les Blank presents documentary tribute to Afro-Cuban percussionist Francisco Aguabella

    Join Les Blank for a screening of  Sworn to the Drum: A Tribute to Francisco Aguabella (1995, 35 minutes) on Friday, March 2, noon to 1:30 pm at the National Museum of American History, Warner Bros. Theater. After the screening, Blank will discuss the film with Smithsonian scholars Marvette Pérez, James Early, and Jim Deutsch.

    Les Blank has been making rich, resonant films about music, art, and foodways for over 50 years at his own Flower Films in Berkeley, California. He recently has been honored with the International Documentary Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Folk Alliance International Lifetime Achievement Award, and a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Two of his films are in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress.

    Aguabella (1925-2010) was a master conga and batá player who bridged traditional Cuban genres with the worlds of rock, jazz, and salsa. Throughout his career, he performed with Tito Puente, Carlos Santana, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Mongo Santamaría, and many other musical legends. In 1995, he was honored as a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.

    This program is organized by the National Museum of American History, the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and the Smithsonian Latino Center as part of the Americans All: Immigration/Migration Initiative. It is presented in collaboration with the DC Independent Film Festival.

    For more information on this program, call
    (202) 633-3773.
    For more information on the DC Independent Film Festival, visit

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