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Special Screenings
Traveling Festival


Knock on Wood

Knock on Wood
13' (USA)

Director/Producer:  Ron Grunhut


Valerie Naranjo, one of New York City’s top professional percussionists, followed her love of African xylophone music to Ghana, where her performances on the gyil, a predecessor of the modern-day marimba, prompted a change in the tribe’s relationship to its women. When Valerie first visited Ghana in 1988, the sound of the gyil was rarely heard outside of western Africa, so the focus of her journey was to learn more about the instrument and apprentice with the Ghanaian xylophone master Krakaba Lobi. The film follows Valerie’s journey from New York to Ghana and back again, as she discovers the cultural importance of the musical instrument she has learned to love. At one point during her trip she is asked by a local chieftain to play for him and his council. An unexpected controversy is ignited as soon as they hear the obvious talent of this foreign woman. Part performance and part biography, the subject is presented in a way that invites the viewer into the experience of the music, the musician and the people. The documentary combines concert performances with interviews and cinema vérité.


Ron Grunhut earned a BA in music from the University of Miami, and was active as a performing flutist and saxophonist in the New York City area before embarking on a career as a Wall Street technology executive. Following a narrow escape from the September 11th World Trade Center attacks, he has transitioned back to the arts as a student of nonfiction film. He is interested in using the medium to tell real-life stories that inform, inspire and encourage new ways to look at the world we live in. Ron is an associate editor on Unfinished Spaces, an Ajna Films production about the completion of Cuba’s “forgotten” National Art Schools and is working on a documentary about unorthodox approaches to health care.

Contact Information:

Ron Grunhut
39 East 20th Street, # 9FL
New York, NY 10003
E-mail: rongrunhut@gmail.com
Web site: www.knockonwoodthefilm.com

©2009 United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF)
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