Bilal Qureshi

In May of 1970, at a San Francisco concert venue best known for reverberating with the sounds of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, three masters of Indian classical music took the stage for a celebration of Indian ragas. The concert was recorded by another legend of the time: Owsley Stanley, the man who designed the Dead's innovative sound system, as well as making what was reputed to be the best LSD of its day.

In the opening pages of the 1994 Canadian novel Funny Boy, a young Sri Lankan boy named Arjie refuses to play cricket with the boys as his father insists. He'd rather bedazzle in bridal reds and join the girls' make-believe wedding.

In the new concert film Tripping with Nils Frahm, directed by Benoit Toulemonde, a small figure in a t-shirt and flat cap bounces around a Berlin stage — playing pianos and towering analog synthesizers, flipping switches, turning knobs and massaging keyboards in front of rapt audiences.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Indian Sun is a new authoritative biography of the Indian musician Ravi Shankar's life, published to coincide with this year's centenary of his birth.

Three years ago, a small film crew drove into the Austrian Alps in search of a remote valley. It would serve as one of the settings for Terrence Malick's vision of paradise.

"We'd taken a big, big risk when we decided to go," says the film's producer Grant Hill. "We had next to no funds. [We] felt, for some reason, we'd work that out as we went along — which, I wouldn't advise doing it again that way, but it worked. And this combination of the mountain background, the faces on the people, the weather really did — I mean, it was otherworldly."

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In the new movie Atlantics, a group of young men set off on a boat for Spain from the coast of Senegal. They're fed up with their lives, and have made the fateful — and fatal — decision to sail to Europe.

But Atlantics, which won the Grand Prix at this year's Cannes Film Festival and coming Nov. 29 to Netflix, is not a movie about them. It's the story of the women they've left behind. And it's a ghost story.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

During his four terms in office, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi redefined the norms of Italian society and created a global blueprint for political strongmen. A business tycoon who owned multiple TV channels, Berlusconi governed Italy like one of his media businesses, eventually facing multiple investigations, sex scandals and charges of corruption.

Loro is the latest from Italian director Paolo Sorrentino and tells the story of businessman and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's last comeback. Read the digital version of this story.

Good morning from Toronto, where the NPR Movies team has decamped for the next seven days or so, as we attend the Toronto International Film Festival, the largest film festival in North America.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

In a hypnotic opening dance between two would-be lovers, the new film Birds of Passage immediately establishes that it is in no way a typical Colombian drug-war epic.

Filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's debut film, The Lives of Others, won the Oscar for best foreign language film in 2006, bringing the enduring trauma of Germany's recent history to international attention.

Set in East Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the film told the story of two artists who are monitored, surveilled and threatened by an East German intelligence officer. It was hailed as a groundbreaking film both abroad and in Germany for its blend of political history and cinematic drama.

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LEILA FADEL, HOST:

In one of the first scenes in Capernaum, the camera flies above the slums of Beirut.

There is no sight of the Mediterranean Sea or the glamour of the so-called Paris of the Middle East. This is another side of the Lebanese capital.

"You're seeing dilapidated buildings, children running around playing with pieces of metals and just whatever they could find on the street, not actual toys," film critic Nana Asfour said.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

"Rapturous," "Soaring," "Masterful!" It's that time of year again when critics use their hyperbolic best to preview the fall's most anticipated films. Starting at the end of August, studios show their Oscar hopefuls to accredited press across a trinity of prestigious film festivals – Venice, Telluride, and Toronto – the last of which concluded on Sunday night.

This story originally aired on Feb. 28, 2017 on All Things Considered.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Finally today, jazz pianist and composer Randy Weston died this weekend. He was 92 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF RANDY WESTON'S "HI-FLY")

For the past two decades, photographer Dayanita Singh has been the subject of exhibitions and retrospectives at museums around the world. Her poetic images of Indian family life and architecture, abandoned spaces and private moments, are the kind of classically beautiful works coveted by curators and collectors.

In the great cultural 'awokening' that has followed the rise of Donald Trump, the stories of Muslim-Americans wrestling with questions of selfhood, belonging, and bigotry have seen their own flowering.

Foxtrot is Israel's most celebrated film of the year — and its most controversial.

It tells the story of one family grappling with the loss of their son at war. But it's also a searing critique of a society stuck in perpetual war.

Padmaavat, India's first 3-D IMAX spectacle, is a lavish, operatic Bollywood musical set in the 14th-century palaces and deserts of Rajasthan. It has elephant processions, kaleidoscopic tableaus of Indian palaces and gorgeous actors in bejeweled costumes. It was directed by one of India's most celebrated filmmakers, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and stars one of the country's most popular actresses, Deepika Padukone.

Can something as simple as saying "I'm sorry" stop a looming war in the Middle East?

That's the premise of a new film called The Insult — it's Lebanon's entry to the Oscars. In it, a neighborhood spat pushes the city of Beirut to the brink of chaos.

Filmmaker Ziad Doueiri says he was inspired by a real-life incident. He was watering his plants on the balcony of his home in Beirut, when the water spilled out onto a construction worker below.

In recent years, films about terrorism have become their own kind of genre. They're often geopolitical thrillers or espionage dramas, but a new film from Germany takes a different — and more intimate — approach.

In the Fade, Germany's entry to the Oscars, tells the story of a survivor picking up the pieces of her broken life. German filmmaker Fatih Akin says he made the film to spotlight something terrorism stories often overlook.

Sweden is often described as one of the world's most progressive and equal societies. In a new film called The Square, things aren't as perfectly Scandinavian as they seem.

It's a satire of Sweden's cultural elite set in a modern art museum. An early scene pits an American journalist against the museum's director, and the journalist reads him a confusing, academic-sounding passage he once wrote. Filmmaker Ruben Östlund says the museum director's language is real.

At the height of the Cold War, the United States was also fighting a culture war. To counter Soviet propaganda, the U.S. State Department launched a public relations campaign called the Jazz Ambassadors program, sending Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Dave Brubeck and other leading jazz musicians on tours around the world.

For years Hollywood studios have been targeting movie audiences in India and China. In the past, they'd dub their films into local languages. Now, that strategy is shifting, and filmmakers are beginning to American stories with regional stars.

The new film xXx: Return of Xander Cage opened a week early in India — because it features one of that country's biggest movie stars, Deepika Padukone.

In the heady political maelstrom of the late 1960s, Italian filmmaker Gillo Pontecorvo released one of the most controversial and acclaimed films of modern cinema. The Battle of Algiers was a big-screen recreation of the bloody mid 1950s Algerian uprising against French rule. The film was made on a shoestring budget with non-actors recruited from the streets of Algiers. It told the story of an insurrection against colonialism from the rare vantage point of the colonized. That shift in perspective was provocative enough to lead France to ban the film on political grounds.

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