June 25, 2024


Showing: Wednesday, September 25 – 8:00 PM
Year: 2018
Country: USA
Genre: ,

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This gritty, lovely documentary follows the unlikely musical partnership between Sterling “Mr. Satan” Magee, a black studio and backup musician for stars like Etta James, James Brown, and Marvin Gaye in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and Adam Gussow, a white Princeton graduate who grew up in Rockland County. A chance meeting on the Harlem streets resulted in performances that attracted acclaim, including a record contract and recordings with U2. Life on the road took its toll; “like the blues, their friendship combined pain mixed with real beauty.” 2018, USA, 80 minutes, documentary

Post-screening discussion via Skype with Adam Gussow, Rockland Country Day School class of ’75 (valedictorian), now a professor of English and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi. He will be interviewed by Jim Fyfe, a longtime staff member and supporter of RCDS, a presentation coach for TED Talks, and a writer/producer whose credits include The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Community Partner: Rockland Country Day School. Students and staff receive the Rivertown Film member discount.

“The blues seep into every scene of Satan & Adam, a gritty yet lovely documentary” (NY Times Critic’s Pick. – Ken Jaworowski, The New York Times

“A moving testament to the boundary-shattering language of music.” “Truly soul-stirring.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times

“A story of racial harmony and the power of music.” – Peter Keough, Boston Globe

“An effervescent tale of the partnership of Sterling Magee and Adam Gussow and how they became a small sensation.” – Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

“The oddball musical bromance between a black Mississippi-born blues singer and a Jewish grad school dropout who met on the pre-gentrified streets of Harlem is poignantly examined.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times

“Even after the songs stop, the music’s bittersweet emotions linger.” (Critic’s Pick) – Ken Jaworowski, The New York Times

“Decades of well-shot footage and interviews, and an underlying sense of melancholy. (Critic’s Pick) – Ken Jaworowski, The New York Times

“Even with a short running time the filmmakers don’t shy away from more complex issues — racial tensions, gentrification, art and anger. Like the blues, there’s real pain here, mixed with real beauty.” – Ken Jaworowski, The New York Times

“Satan & Adam makes for fascinating viewing. And even as the film captivates, it sparks instant theorizing as to who will play the lead roles in the inevitable Hollywood feel-good dramatization. I’m thinking Ryan Gosling and Samuel L. Jackson.” – Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter

“The two mismatched musicians became an instant hit, their popularity fueled not only by the quality of their playing but also the novelty of their pairing.” – Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter

“Extensive footage of the duo spanning multiple decades and is always compelling in its chronicling of the loving relationship that developed between them. – Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter

“A stranger-than-fiction human interest tale. – Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter

“For the Princeton graduate who grew up in a small town north of NYC, making music with Magee becomes a journey on the wild side of life as a street musician.” – Mark Thompson, Blues Blast Magazine

“Two souls searching for peace, needing each other, struggling to reconcile two totally different backgrounds and racial identities.” – Mark Thompson, Blues Blast Magazine

“A masterful effort in telling the Satan & Adam story in all of its complexity, in a straight-forward fashion that thoroughly engages.” – Mark Thompson, Blues Blast Magazine

“Blues fans definitely need to see this film. Highly recommended!” – Mark Thompson, Blues Blast Magazine

“Satan & Adam goes from an interesting story about a collaborative partnership reaching its end to something much deeper about the haunting imprint someone can make on your life.” – Steve Davis, Austin Chronicle

“Music magic happened and an unforgettable collaboration was born, going against the grain of racial tension in New York City.” – Dino-Ray Ramos, Deadline