10th edition CIFF – 10-14 April 2024

How They Got Over (2018 Feature Film)

Robert CLEM | USA | 2017 | doc | color / black-and-white | DCP | 87′ | English | n.s.

MUSIC CALLS_Rock ‘n’ roll’s roots aren’t just rhythm and blues, but go much further back to 1930s gospel quartet music. A surfeit of musical clips illustrates how harmony singing gradually evolved into an upbeat spectacle with electrical instruments and, ultimately, more worldly lyrics.

Legendary musicians like James Brown got their ideas from the impressive, dramatic performances of Afro-American gospel quartets that played in churches, on local radio stations and, later, at concert halls starting in the 1930s. The music documentary How They Got Over about the evolution of these quartets illustrates how this often originally religious harmony singing developed into more secular songs with instruments, multiple vocalists, passion, and sold-out shows. These singing men and women were musical precursors to famous genres such as doo-wop, rhythm and blues, soul, Motown and rock ‘n’ roll.

A number of octogenarian singers regale us with tales of their road trips across the South of the United States when they played for peanuts to make their names. Their stories and those of other genre lovers are augmented by seldom-seen archival footage of concerts by the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and many others.

Place: The Cinemas 5

Date: 12 April 2018

Time: 17:30

Duration: 1:06

Place: The Cinemas 5

Date: 13 April 2018

Time: 22:00

Duration: 1:06

Place: The Cinemas 5

Date: 14 April 2018

Time: 12:45

Duration: 1:06

Year in



Robert CLEM


J. Alan Hostetter
Tommy Wier




Robert Clem






Robert Clem
Mike Tannen

Production Company

One State Films
Tannen Media Ventures


One State Films


Robert Clem

Year of Production



De Amerikaanse filmmaker Robert CLEM ontving een MA van de filmschool van de New York University en participeerde in het Sundance Institute Writer/Director’s Lab. Zijn films onderzoeken de complexe cultuur en geschiedenis van zijn thuisstaat Alabama en het zuiden van de Verenigde Staten. In de jaren 90 produceerde en regisseerde hij drama’s voor de US National Public Radio. Zijn eerste documentaire Big Jim Folsom:  The Two Faces of Populism (1997), over de raciaal diverse, populistische opstand van Alabama in de jaren 40 won de International Documentary Association ABCNews VideoSource Award.



Big Jim Folsom: The Two Faces of Populism (1997, doc), War Birds: Diary of an Unknown Aviator (2003, doc), Company K (2004), In the Wake of the Assassins (2007), Eugene Walter: Last of the Bohemians (2008, doc), Malbis Plantation (2010, Jefferson County Sound (2011), The Passion of Miss Augusta (2014), The Two Worlds of William March (2016), How They Got Over (2017, doc)