Michael Franti is a talented and charismatic performer who uses his music to rally audiences the world over to work for positive change.
“I've travelled the globe making music and throughout the years I've always hoped that it could inspire small steps towards making the world a better place,” he says.
Now he has made and features in a film about people who are doing just that – confronting adversity with courage, creativity and service to others.
'Stay Human' marks Michael’s directorial debut and will have its International Premiere when it opens Byron Bay’s 12th Film Festival in October – and its optimistic, inclusive themes make it ideal for the Red Carpet Gala evening that kicks off the 10-day event.
In the film, Michael combines the roles of troubadour and social activist, travelling to meet and mix with everyday folk from Bali to the Philippines to South Africa – sharing their songs and stories, and celebrating their lives.
Among them is a midwife working in the aftermath of a devastating typhoon in the Philippines; a young couple battle with the husband’s degenerative brain disease; an environmental scientist in Bali perfecting bamboo products to curb deforestation; and a couple who inspire their community through music and education.
In what seems at times a world of suffering and cynicism, Michael finds cause for optimism in these useful, productive lives. They represent, he says, the best qualities of human beings and show us what it takes to stay human.
Michael brings a palpable joy to his concerts – high energy blends of hip hop, rock, folk, reggae and electronic music – and he brings the same transformative and uplifting vibe to his documentary film, in which he also discloses his own personal struggles.
The result is a film that overflows with life, with joy, music, fun, laughter and positivity. It is in itself a shining embodiment of full, well-rounded humanity, and something of a guiding light.
Tickets for 'Stay Human' and the festival’s Gala Opening Night party on 12 October are on sale now. Byron Bay International Film Festival runs 12-21 October.