Martin Scorsese leads effort to save lost African cinema

Updated 4:50 AM ET, Fri November 10, 2017

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(CNN)Through the night, for many nights, Martin Scorsese sat ensconced in an edit suite. It was 1981 and the director was in post-production for "The King of Comedy," his dark satire of the stand-up circuit.

As he worked, a TV in the background pulsed with the sounds of Nass El Ghiwane, a Moroccan band and the subject of "Trances," a concert movie by Ahmed El Maanouni. Over and over, night after night, the same channel repeated its broadcast, the film's hypnotic rhythms seeping into the New Yorker's soul.
"It's been an obsession of mine," Scorsese has said. In the years since, he hunted down the band's music, heaped praise on El Maanouni and in 2007 orchestrated a full restoration of the film.
Scorsese is part of a generation that includes George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola: titans of Hollywood who gorged on a diet of foreign cinema. Its influence is telling. Just as the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa filtered down into "Star Wars," Ingmar Bergman's picaresque narratives find a companion in "Apocalypse Now." For Scorsese, African cinema comprised part of his vernacular.
"Trances" was an inspiration behind 1988's "The Last Temptation of Christ," and elsewhere the director has described the "incredible impact" of "La Noire De..." ("Black Girl," 1966