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La Paloma - The Melody of Longing

"La Paloma" was born in the 1860s as a Cuban Habanera, composed by the Basque Sebastian Iradier. His simple love song took off on a flight around the world and became an immediate hit in Mexico. "La Paloma" brought tears to the eyes of the unfortunate Hapsburg Emperor Maximilian on the Mexican throne, while liberals mocked him in a satirical version. As a marching song La Paloma arrived in Europe and came of age. To her melody children in Auschwitz filed into the gas chambers, whilst Hans Albers’ alcohol driven version was outlawed by the Nazis. In Romania, "La Paloma" consoled those longing for peace, freedom and their loved ones during their deportation to Siberia. In 1961 Elvis Presley performed the tune in the feature film “Blue Hawaii”. Immediately, "La Paloma" conquered the charts and was at the height of her career. Today, it seems, the Grande Dame has become old and dusty. But she is a master of survival. The Mexican singing star Eugenia Leon is breathing new life into "La Paloma" as a powerful protest song against the war in Iraq and the U.S. La Paloma is celebrating a glamourous comeback.

The film will show glimpses of the many facets of "La Paloma" in Spain, Cuba, Mexico, Hawaii, Germany, Romania, Zanzibar. Musicians will tell us their stories and we will portray their living and working conditions, and so the film will also become a hommage to hand-crafted music, which is endangered in these days of MP3 and digitalized sounds: the Habaneras from Cuba, the slack key guitar sound in Hawaii, the Arabian Taraab music in Zanzibar.

We will hear about 25 "La Paloma" versions, but only a few in full length. The variety is surprising, not boring. A song that has spoken for itself for 150 years, doesn’t need our commentary - it deserves our celebration!