The Jazz Ambassadors


The Jazz Ambassadors is a beautifully crafted film about a worldwide public relations campaign to support the United States in its “cultural duel” with the Soviet Union. Peeling away layers of irony, the film reveals how the United States, in its zeal to “friend-raise,” exploited African American musicians and composers to sell a country that restricted their freedom. Beginning in the late 1950s, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington were hired by the U.S. government to promote America’s merits to African and Asian nations in an era of decolonialization. Artists also toured Eastern Europe and the USSR. Luscious archival footage of overseas concerts and fascinating interviews not only showcase the music but also explain the politics of the day. Scholar Robin D. G. Kelley, in a star turn, clarifies this story’s interplay of history, music, human rights, and propaganda.  NK

Q&A following screening

Last Minute Line Only


Hugo Berkeley


Mick Csáky


Nse Asuquo


Andre Lascaris, Dewald Aukema

Release Year


Festival Year



United States, United Kingdom

Run Time

90 minutes


World Premiere