Known to its legions of fans simply as P-Funk, Parliament Funkadelic ( director Yvonne Smith; running time 53 minutes) has had a profound impact on the development of contemporary music, aesthetics and culture.
Parliament Funkadelic: One Nation Under a Groove chronicles the unique alchemy of the musical influences that fed into the band’s singular approach to music, documenting P-Funk’s continuing influence on today’s artists and musicians and featuring an in-depth look at the musical and entrepreneurial mastermind of its leader George Clinton.
To create a film that reflected the distinctive nature of P-Funk, filmmaker Yvonne Smith used animation, both cell and computer-generated, to create the special sequences and virtual environments that reflect the P-Funk aesthetic. Inspired by a P-Funk lyric, she created the ‘Afronaut,’ a cartoon character from outer space who serves as the film’s host and narrator. The Afronaut’s voice is provided by hip-hop comic and actor Eddie Griffin, who co-starred in the popular series Malcolm and Eddie and feature films including Undercover Brother, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo and its sequel Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo. In Parliament Funkadelic, the Afronaut descends to earth from a new millennium version of the Mothership, created by computer graphics artist Paul Collins. The Afronaut was brought to life in cell animation from the drawings of Kevin Lofton, a former animation artist of Beavis and Butthead.
In Smith’s film, interviews with the original Parliaments—the late Ray Davis, Calvin Simon, Grady Thomas and Clarence ‘Fuzzy’ Haskins, take place in a virtual barber shop, reminiscent of the group’s early years doing hair and singing in a New Jersey hair salon run by George Clinton. The barbershop and the various environments in which George Clinton appears, were created in digital animation. In addition to the Parliaments, the film also features original interviews with George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, Garry Shider, Dawn Silva – one of the Brides of Funkenstein and other key P-Funk band members and staff. Other musicians interviewed include Rick James, Ice Cube, Flea, Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, De La Soul, Shock G (also known as ‘Humpty Hump’ of the Digital Underground) and Nona Hendryx of LaBelle. Reginald Hudlin, Director of House Party and Boomerang, president of entertainment for BET and a P-Funk fanatic, also appears, as does funk historian and author Rickey Vincent.