Paul Simon’s Graceland gets its own documentary

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Paul Simon's 1986 album Graceland is the subject of endless debate, but its popularity can't really be argued with: it's gone platinum five times in the United States and the United Kingdom, won Grammies (for both Album of the Year and Record of the Year), and was selected for preservation in the United States National Recording Registry in 2007. Now, a new documentary will focus on Simon's recent return to South Africa to reunite with the musicians who helped make the album.

Director Joe Berlinger, best known for the 1996 documentary Paradise Lost (about the West Memphis Three, whose eventual release was kick-started by the film), has completed filming on the project and hopes to have it finished in time for a premiere at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

The new film is a catch-up of sorts that will see Simon hanging out with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the rest of the musicians that he recorded Graceland with. "It's all about the musicians he hadn't seen in all these years. It's a perfect antidote to the tragedy that [Paradise Lost] has been," Berlinger said.

Simon's original trip to record in South Africa caused a stir — an anti-apartheid boycott was still very much in place at the time. However, the United Nations anti-apartheid committee eventually found Simon not guilty of violating the boycott because he hadn't supported the South African government in any way during his visit.

It'll be really interesting to see whether or not the film will include Los Lobos, who maintain that Simon stole the song "All Around the World or The Myth of Fingerprints" from them. It'd also be nice to see a film that takes a more even-handed approach to the subject matter, possibly even addressing the accusations of cultural piracy that have dogged Simon over the years whenever Graceland comes up.

Then again, let's not forget that Berlinger also made Metallica's Some Kind of Monster, a documentary that could charitably be described as forcefully, awkwardly, maudlin, so maybe an even-handed, subtle approach is not what we're looking at here — we could just end up with another fawning, Boomer-baiting piece of lip service that would do nothing to foster intelligent discourse about the album.