'Residente': Film Review | SXSW 2017

Ruben Salgado Escudero
A highly personal musical odyssey.

Calle 13 rapper Rene Perez Joglar probes his ancestral roots in this music-infused documentary that premiered at SXSW.

Letting his DNA makeup inform his travel itinerary, the Puerto Rican musician formerly known as Rene Perez Joglar embarks on a globetrotting journey of self-discovery in the ambitious, eponymous Residente.

With some 25 Latin Grammy awards to his name as the founder of influential rap group Calle 13, but looking for a fresh challenge, Perez Joglar turned to the results of an ancestry test to determine the directions his new recording project would take him.

The result makes for a diverse, highly personal musical odyssey which, while undeniably inspired, occasionally is structurally thrown off course by its inherent wanderlust.

Perez Joglar, who came up with the concept with Marc de Beaufort and also serves as director, narrator and chief composer, gives his passport a good workout, traveling to the likes of Siberia, Georgia, China, Burkina Faso and Ghana, collaborating on original songs with local musicians often playing indigenous instruments.

That exotic approach sheds some intriguing light on the creative process, especially when it comes to the work he does with the Peking Opera, which, in turn, takes him on spontaneous treks to Barcelona and London in search of the perfect pipe organ.

Along the way, he also gets some musical assists from Lin-Manuel Miranda and famed Tuareg guitarist Bombino before touching down on native soil and providing an impassioned chronicle of Puerto Rico’s turbulent history.

It’s all vividly captured by lenser Alexandra Posada, but while it will make an evocative visual souvenir to the upcoming album of the same name, taken as a stand-alone proposition Residente can’t help but feel a bit all over the map.

Production companies: Paraiso Pictures, Story House
Cast: Residente (Rene Perez Joglar), Lin-Manuel Miranda Director: Rene Perez Joglar
Executive producers: Isaac Lee, Jorge Ferradas, Juan Rendon, Eric Douat
Director of photography: Alexandra Posada
Editor: Rebecca Adorno
Composer: Rene Perez Joglar
Venue: South by Southwest (24 Beats Per Second)
Sales: Univision

In Spanish and English

90 minutes

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