about the film
Statement from the Director
In these wildly unpredictable times, we are immensely proud that, by January 2022, Kofia: A Revolution Through Music has been premiered across Palestine, Europe and North America, with the enthusiasm felt in besieged Gaza a particular source of inspiration. The musical stories in this film deserve to be heard and amplified.
The Kofia story is one of many Palestinian musical journeys, untold while hostile ruling ideologies control the airwaves. George Totari was one of the hundreds of thousands to leave occupied Palestine during the period of the band's inception. Brought by circumstance to Sweden, he and his bandmates led musical innovation and sparked questions on European-led war and oppression.
This was the era of the Palestinian Revolution, an upsurge in national consciousness, guerrilla movement and a renaissance in radical politics and culture. In Kofia, Palestinian and Swedish folk singing met with crowds eager to listen and learn, as George embarked on an internationalist mission to transmit stories of struggle to the Gothenburg locals.
Musically, George's approach to songwriting was simple, with repetitive melodies based on the maqam traditions of turathi, or heritage-based Palestinian singing. This time it would be bilingual, utilising Arabic and Swedish. Boasting a revolving door of choir members, Kofia turned the singing of political slogans into an artform.
George was difficult to track down - vocalist Carina Olsson calls him the "Palestinian Sugarman" and he laughs at our initial surprise that he was still alive. Now at an age where most have retired, George is keen to bring political songs to a new generation. He insists that viewers don't see the Kofia experience as a thing of the past. As if to highlight this point, our filming coincided with a solidarity gig where younger musicians joined in the action. Now, as then, Kofia played not for money, but for liberation.
Dr Louis Brehony
Director: Dr Louis Brehony
Cinematography: Leon Brehony, Olivia Middleton
Featured Kofia band members: George Totari, Michel Kreitem, Carina Olsson, Bengt Carlsson, Mats Lundalv
Subtitles: Carina Olsson, Mohammad Daghrah, Reem Anbar, Louis Brehony
Publicity, photo and design: Liam Crotty, Fiona Brehony