A Q&A with The Hand of Fatima director Augusta Palmer

Rock scribe Robert Palmer covered music for Rolling Stone and The New York Times and wrote Deep Blues, a cultural history of the blues. His filmmaking daughter Augusta Palmer provides an overview of the late critic’s career in The Hand of Fatima, a documentary which has its local premiere at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 3 at the Cleveland Museum of Art Lecture Hall. In a recent phone interview, she spoke about making the film.

Your film is as much about your father’s career as a critic as it is about your relationship with him. Talk about balancing those two impulses.
It’s interesting because people have said it doesn’t show enough of him as a critic. Whenever someone comes to a film or book they come with their expectations. When I started the project myself, I thought I would be able to tell the whole story of Bob Palmer, the man and the critic, which was immense hubris. I felt like through this window of Jajouka, I could get to the heart of why he was a critic and what made him if not unique at least unusual. He was a critic who came at things from the angle of I love this and how can I make someone else love this. There are not a lot of critics who are like that. That’s the stereotype of the critic. Maybe they get a bad rap as someone who is self-important and wants to prove that they’re right about everything at the expense of everything else. He wasn’t like that. At the heart was this ability to be lost in music in the best possible way. I knew that but I think I could lost sight of it. I think that’s why I wanted to make the movie.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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