If you love music, which you must do if have not just stumbled across RockShot and you seek out really well produced documentaries documentaries, then this November is going to be very exciting for you in London.
Doc’n Roll, the UK’s Music Documentary Festival, returns for its fifth London edition with a dazzlingly diverse programme running from 1 to 18 November across ten of the city’s best-loved cinemas. Doc’n Roll London 2018 will screen no less than 28 music documentaries that spotlight the icons and rebels of Afghanistan, Wales, Ethiopia and Ukraine; tell the stories of the groundbreaking record labels Blue Note and Trojan; map the worlds of grindcore, blues, Detroit techno, “she-punks” and Kirtan mantras; and go behind the scenes with artists including Silvana, Sepultura, the Wedding Present, Chilly Gonzales, Badly Drawn Boy and Blondie’s Clem Burke. With such a varied offering, surely, people of all ages and interest in most genres will have something that will interested them.
This year’s edition includes 25 World, European, UK and London premieres, filmmaker and artist Q&As and live music events. 2018 also marks Doc’n Roll’s debut collaboration with The Photographers’ Gallery, in an exclusive event celebrating the world premiere of Kojey Radical, a short film by renowned photographer and filmmaker Dean Chalkley.
Doc’n Roll Film Festival was launched in 2014 by founder Colm Forde to show some long-overdue love to the countless under-the-radar music documentaries being ignored by risk-averse film programmers.
Six films premiering this year have been shortlisted for the Best Music Documentary 2018 prize, judged by a jury panel of Geoff Travis (founder, Rough Trade Records), Estella Adeyeri (musician and sound engineer), Kirsty Allison (poet and music journalist), Oli Harbottle (Head of Distribution, Dogwoof) and Jess Partridge (PRS Foundation and London in Stereo).
Kicking the festival off in fine style on 1 November is the world premiere of Slow Club – Our Most Brilliant Friends at the Barbican Centre, featuring a Q&A with the band’s Rebecca Taylor and Charles Watson and director Piers Dennis.
Details of the films, take your pick from the following.
Slow Club – Our Most Brilliant Friends
Directed by Piers Dennis, UK, 2018, 70 mins
Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor are Slow Club. After four well-received albums and 10 years of touring, conflicting perspectives on success have pushed the two apart. Could this be the end of the Sheffield-based indie band? With intimate access to what may have been the band’s final tour, filmmaker Piers Dennis joined Charles and Rebecca on the road, capturing the frailties and brilliance of their musical partnership and documenting what friendship looks like from the back of a bus. Unflinchingly clear-eyed, it captures not only the camaraderie, elation, fretfulness and boredom of road life, but also the moments that the big existential questions – ambition, artistic purpose, emotional vulnerability – appear. A remarkable, bittersweet portrait.
Kojey Radical short film + Q&A
Directed by Dean Chalkley, 2018, UK, 7:15 mins
We journey into the mind of one of the UK’s most exciting emerging musical artists; Kojey Radical.
Grime has grown from strength to strength and people are looking for what is coming next. Kojey is, for many, becoming the voice of this post grime generation. Transcending the limitations of one genre, he blends elements of Rap, Trap, and Grime through the filter of spoken word into a new form. This inner-city sound is pushing British music in bold new directions, uninhibited with a strong socio-political consciousness.
From the beginning of the film the tone is set, this reflective and illuminating piece allows us to have a personal moment with Kojey, his considerations, process and humour. Far from being a clichéd pop promo, this atmospheric piece reveals Kojey’s mind state, inspiration, his need for freedom, creative refuge and how elements of his music are interpreted. The film is rooted in the neighbourhood of Hoxton, East London, where Kojey grew up and this particular housing estate is where he finds a kind of solace.
The film’s underlying soundtrack is Kwame Nkrumah punctuated through a glitchy audio and visual counterpoint reflecting Kojey’s rationale and stream of thought.
We Are The League (How Deep Do You Want It?)
Directed by George Hencken, UK, 2018, 90 mins
We Are The League (How Deep Do You Want It?) is a deep and meaningful feature length documentary about (officially) one of the most offensive bands of all time, The Anti-Nowhere League.
It’s the story of four blokes in leather trousers who crawled out of their unlikely home town of Tunbridge Wells in the early 1980s, shoved a carrot up the arse of the post-punk scene, and left a trail of outrage and disgust in their wake – and continue to do so to this day.
Packed full of never-before-seen archive footage – from the League’s first ever show at the world-famous Lyceum in London, to clips from Stewart Copeland’s legendary lost nouveau-punk art film odyssey So What!, We Are The League (How Deep Do You Want It?) tells the full uncensored story, in the frank and unapologetic words of the original members, of how a biker, a skinhead, a grammar school boy and a Persian exile with no respect for anything, no discernible musical talent and no ambition nevertheless surfed the second wave of punk out of the Garden Of England, all the way around the world – and back again.
They didn’t change the face of rock’n’roll, but they sure pissed off a lot of people along the way.
Some Other Guys – The Story Of The Big Three
Directed by Todd Kipp, 2017, Canada, 100 mins
How did The Beatles rocket to stardom while their British Invasion rivals vanished from the music scene? Like the Fab Four, The Big Three were part of the exploding music scene in the North of England in the 1960s. They spent their early days playing at Liverpool’s Cavern Club, and were managed by Brian Epstein, the man who made The Beatles stars. But where The Big Three differed was in their loud, raucous live shows, their penchant for drinking, and their refusal to sell out. After a brief period in the spotlight, the band cut ties with Epstein and ended their careers in a legendary fist fight. A portrait of a band, an era and the vicissitudes of musical fortune, Some Other Guys draws on in-depth interviews with key players to serve up both little-known behind-the-scenes stories and the myths and legends that have grown up over the years. Starring Brian “Griff” Griffiths, Johnny “Gus” Gustafson, Johnny “Hutch” Hutchinson and many others from the early days of British rock and roll.
The Wedding Present: Something Left Behind
Directed by Andrew Jezard, 2018, UK, 87 mins
The story of the fast and furious sound of The Wedding Present’s much-lauded 1987 debut album George Best explores the 30-year lifespan of a record that has been labelled the greatest break-up album of all time. Featuring interviews with all four original band members and other key players in the record’s history, as well as the major influence behind its very existence, the film follows the album’s story through the eyes of the fans who have grown up alongside it. Leading up to the band’s blistering and emotional final ever performance and the closing of a hugely significant and personal chapter for songwriter and band leader David Gedge, this is more than just a “making of” documentary. It’s also a love story, with all the emotions and turmoil that that entails.
My View: Clem Burke
Directed by Philip Sansom, UK 2018, 50 mins
Clem Burke is the beat behind multi-platinum selling band Blondie whose signature style has brought millions to the dance floor, with a unique approach to playing that has seen him accompany artists from Bob Dylan to Eurythmics. In this access-all-areas documentary we follow the tireless musician as he plays with Blondie at Hyde Park to 80,000 people, and at Liverpool’s legendary Cavern in Beatles Week, where he plays five gigs in 24 hrs. Exclusive interviews with Dave Stewart, Chris Stein, Hugh Cornwell, Glen Matlock, Bob Gruen and many more put the spotlight on one of rock’n’roll’s great unsung heroes, the beatmaster they call the Doctor of Rock.
Directed by Travis Beard, 2018, Afghanistan, 77 mins
Today, Afghans are among the largest groups of migrants to have fled their country for Europe/the West. Since 2002 the international community has injected more than a trillion dollars into Afghanistan. What went wrong? This film examines the counter insurgency/culture campaign that the US government (and others) waged, told through the eyes of young Afghans who started the country’s first ever heavy metal band and an adventurous Australian who created a Western-style music scene in the capital, Kabul. Will headbanging, disenchanted Afghans win the hearts and minds of their peers, or will the Taliban return from the grave to thwart their ambitions?
Mantra: Sounds into Silence
Directed by Georgia Wyss, Spain, 2017, 85 mins
Harmony, healing and shared humanity: a moving portrait of the practice of Kirtan, and the people from all walks of life and cultural traditions who seek inner peace by singing mantras together. In a film about spirituality rather than religion, we meet a diverse group of participants ranging from Tibetan monks to hip-hop MCs and prison inmates, who offer accounts of Kirtan’s lasting impact on their creative and emotional lives. We also learn of the growing neurological evidence for the measurable, beneficial effects of meditation and chanting. Via spellbinding performances and insights from many of Kirtan’s most acclaimed performers, including Deva Premal & Miten with Manose, Krishna Das, Snatam Kaur, Jai Uttal, MC Yogi, Dave Stringer, Lama Gyurme & Jean-Philippe Rykiel, C.C. White, Mirabai Ceiba, Gaura Vani, Nina Rao, Charlie Braun, Guru Ganesha and Wah!, Georgia Wyss’ documentary offers revelations for anyone moved by the simple, subtle, affecting power of song.
Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records
Directed by Nicolas Jack Davies, 2018, UK, 85 mins
A film about the love affair between Jamaican and British youth culture told through the prism of one of the most iconic labels in the history of black music, Trojan Records. Combining archive footage, interview and drama, Rudeboy tells the story of the label by placing it at the heart of a cultural revolution that unfolded in the council estates and dancefloors of late 60s and early 70s Britain, as immigration and innovation transformed popular music and culture. A cast of legendary artists including Lee “Scratch” Perry, Toots Hibbert, Ken Boothe, Neville Staple, Marcia Griffiths, Dave Barker, Dandy Livingstone, Lloyd Coxsone, Pauline Black, Derrick Morgan and more bring the sounds, stars and stories to life.
Never Stop – A Music That Resists
Directed by Jacqueline Caux, 2017, France, 80 mins
Q&A with director
This striking and beautifully filmed documentary tells the compelling and unexpected story of Detroit techno and the independent labels that enabled its stubbornly independent underground culture to resonate worldwide. It is the tale of a creative force, inspired by new attitudes towards technology and electronic communication, that built a future-facing DIY utopia in a machine-age city undergoing huge change as its place at the heart of American manufacturing slipped away. As Detroit struggles toward rebirth, Never Stop looks back over the genre’s thirty year history via interviews and insights from the movement’s legendary figures, including Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Carl Craig and Jeff Mills, ranging over the radio DJs who inspired them, the record shops who supported them and the major labels who rejected and tried to thwart them; independence, enterprise and empowerment; and the sequencers, sounds and scenes that created a musical phenomenon.
I Can Only Be Mary Lane
Directed by Jesseca Ynez, 2018, USA, 60 mins
Q&A with director
At 82, Mary Lane is one of the last of the legendary blues musicians who made the Great Migration from America’s South. Widely respected in Chicago, she has nevertheless never had the wider recognition she deserves. I Can Only Be Mary Lane follows her as she records just her second studio album, and first in over 20 years. Her producer thinks it could potentially win her a Grammy, if only they can get it completed.
A longtime staple of Chicago’s West Side blues circuit, Mary was born November 23, 1935 in Clarendon, Arkansas. After honing her skills in local juke joints in the company of Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Nighthawk, Little Junior Parker and James Cotton, Lane relocated to Chicago in 1957; backed by Morris Pejoe, she soon cut her debut single “You Don’t Want My Lovin’ No More” for the Friendly Five label. A favourite among peers for her dulcet tones, Mary would nevertheless not record again for several decades, remaining virtually unknown outside of the Chicago Blues faithful.
Directed by Gruffydd Davies, 2018, UK, 2018, 99 mins
Pop music…but in Welsh. Is it a fringe interest even in its home on the fringes of the British Isles, or proof, as Anorac’s narrator muses that, “culture and music has the power to change things”? Its title a nod to both unfashionable obsessions and rainy climates, this is a document of Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens’ musical road trip across his native land by train, bus and taxi from Cardiff to Ceredigion, Clwyd to Caernarfon, and the Eisteddfod to Portmeirion’s Festival No.6. Via detours to vinyl racks and venues, Stephens uncovers a world of bards and beatboxers, Sixties trailblazers and creative superstars, folk duos and troubadours, rock bands and refuseniks. Performers including Gwenno, the Joy Formidable, 9Bach, Mr Phormula and Stephens’ heroes Meic Stevens, Dave Datblygu and Gruff Rhys offer songs and insights as they ponder progress and nostalgia, history and poetry, nationalism’s pride and its darker side, the local and the global.
Is It Punk Music?
Directed by Rodrigue Huart, 2017, France, 50 mins
Jim and Loz Beck are brothers from Chipping Norton. They’ve played rock music together since they were 8 years old. At 18, they left the boredom of the English countryside behind to live in London and work on their music; Jim began work in a cultural association as Loz discovered the pleasures of student life. Driven by the raw punk sounds and deeply political and emotional lyrics of their two-piece band Cassels, this intimate portrait foregrounds their headstrong aesthetic, their fearlessly DIY approach to the music industry’s realities, and the vicissitudes of social and economic life in London.
Anne Clark: I’ll Walk Out Into Tomorrow
Directed by Claus Withopf, 2018, Germany, 81 mins
In a compelling act of musical alchemy, poet Anne Clark turned punk’s creative heat into eloquently cool soundscapes whose influence, three decades on, remains. Via her groundbreaking use of samples and analogue synthesizers in tracks such as “Sleeper in Metropolis” and “Our Darkness”, the Croydon-born artist would become a forerunner of the techno generation. She went on to explore acoustic and orchestral settings for her own heartfelt and cryptic lyrics, as well as the work of poets including Rainer Maria Rilke and Charles Baudelaire. This intimate portrait of a famously reticent figure attests to the patience and keen eye of filmmaker Claus Withopf, whose camera accompanied Clark for nearly a decade. Along with compelling live footage dating from the 1980s to the present day, I’ll Walk Out Into Tomorrow focuses on Clark’s recollections of her school days, London’s punk scene, the music industry’s manipulations and deceits, the willfulness of the human heart, and her enduring love affair with the creative process in all its doubts, detours and discoveries.
Directed by Mika Gustafson, Olivia Kastebring, Christina Tsiobanelis, 2017, UK, 95 mins
“Let’s smash patriarchy!” Swedish hip-hop artist Silvana Imam shouts through a megaphone, and hundreds of hands shoot into the air. Her raw raps are autobiographical and strongly focused on sexual identity, politics and her immigrant background – her father is from Syria, her mother from Lithuania. She describes herself as a lesbian, feminist and anti-racist punk rapper, and calls Sweden a disgusting country: a conservative nation bursting with xenophobia. We also see her perform at the Way Out West festival, where she makes fun of neo-Nazis: “Go kiss your fucking swastika!” Starting in 2014, the year of her breakthrough, the film reveals a young performer who is both arrogant and insecure, and documents her relationship with singer Beatrice Eli, another “power pussy” who makes music for and about women.
Stories from She Punks
Directed by Gina Birch and Helen Reddington, 2018, UK, 45 mins
Loud, fearless and (un)typical girls: Gina Birch (The Raincoats) and Helen Reddington (The Chefs), musicians and punk icons turned directors, serve up a fascinating documentary built on new interviews with the women who played instruments in punk bands in the 1970s. In accounts laced with wit, honesty and insight, pioneering players including the Adverts’ Gaye Black (bass), Palmolive from The Slits (drums), Shanne Bradley from The Nips (bass), Jane Munro from The Au Pairs (bass), Hester Smith and Rachel Bor from Dolly Mixture (drums and guitar), bassist Gina and guitarist Ana Da Silva from The Raincoats, as well as many others, we hear about acquiring instruments, learning to play, forming bands and getting gigs.
Blue Note Records – Beyond the Notes
Directed by Sophie Huber, 2018, Switzerland/USA, 85 mins
Beyond the Notes explores the vision behind an iconic American jazz record label. Since 1939, Blue Note artists have been encouraged to push creative boundaries in search of uncompromising expressions. Through current recording sessions and rare archive footage and conversations with iconic Blue Note artists, the film offers an intimate perspective on a still-vital legacy. As legendary artists Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter join a new generation of groundbreaking Blue Note artists including Robert Glasper and Ambrose Akinmusire to record an All-Stars album, their reflections lead us back to the highly influential figures of the past on which the legacy of Blue Note is built: Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Horace Silver and Miles Davis. The values that jazz embodies and that Blue Note has promoted since its inception – freedom of expression, equality and dialogue – are as relevant today as they were when the label was founded.
Directed by Otavio Juliano, 2017, Brazil, 100 mins
Part concert film, part testimonial to the power of music, part intimate insider view, Sepultura Endurance is a close-focus portrait of Brazil’s rock legends featuring previously unseen archival footage from the band’s 30 year history and interviews with admirers including Lars Ulrich, Scott Ian and Slipknot‘s Corey Taylor. A true institution, Sepultura has released 14 albums, sold millions of albums worldwide, and earned multiple gold and platinum records across the globe. Following the band as they toured and recorded their last three albums, a time of tension and triumph, director Otavio Juliano serves up the history, myths, conflicts, personnel changes and struggles, allowing us to see them at their most vulnerable and human, as well as icons of heavy metal.
The Library Music Film
Directed by Paul Elliott & Sean Lamberth, 2018, UK, 99 mins
Some of the best music ever written… and it was never made available to the public. Composed and recorded for use in film, television broadcasts and advertising, and covering every genre, instrument and atmosphere, library music was an an off-the-shelf option cheaper than commissioning a composer to score a soundtrack.
In its golden era from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, thousands of albums were created by the world’s greatest composers using full orchestras in the best recording studios, with the best engineers and recording equipment. Only available on vinyl and only given to industry professionals, library music albums had tiny production runs; sometimes only 200 copies were pressed, and most were destroyed in the 1990s. Despite its rarity, this music now has a loyal and growing following of DJs, tastemakers, record producers, beatmakers, journalists and vinyl enthusiasts, and library music tracks have been sampled to form the backbone of some of the biggest chart-topping singles by contemporary artists.
In a documentary fronted by record producer, composer and enthusiast Shawn Lee, The Library Music Film takes viewers from London across Europe and to California in search of some of library music’s pioneers, including Alan Hawkshaw, Keith Mansfield, John Cameron, Barbara Moore, Janko Nilovic, Brian Bennett and Stefano Torossi. And in interviews with DJs and producers including Mark Rae and Fatboy Slim, US hip hop stars such as Cut Chemist (Jurassic 5) and Young Einstein (Ugly Duckling), and Marvels soundtrack composer Adrian Younge, we hear why library music continues to play an important role in today’s music industry.
In its pursuit of a fascinating parallel universe to the record industry we think we know, The Library Music Film serves up musical innovators past and present, hidden sonic treasures and a lot of laughter along the way.
Chilly Gonzales – Shut Up and Play the Piano
Directed by Philipp Jedicke, 2018, Germany, 82 mins
Chilly Gonzales is a professional paradox: a genre-juggling provocateur serving up rap and electro in underground Berlin who became an unexpected infiltrator of the concert halls of classical music. Truth, fiction and mischief collide in this playful documentary as we follow the Grammy-winning Gonzales from his native Montreal to late 1990s Berlin, and via Paris to the world’s great philharmonic halls. Along the way, he notches up collaborations with the likes of Feist, Jarvis Cocker, Peaches, Daft Punk and Drake.
Diving deep into the dichotomy of Gonzales’ stage persona, in which relentless self-doubt and gleeful megalomania are two sides of the same coin, the documentary makes unorthodox use of the artist’s own video archives along with interviews and performance footage. A fast-paced portrait of a restless reveller in artifice and a career driven by the desire to push boundaries as well as buttons.
My Darling Son: Morski & The Turbans
Directed by. Pavlina Ivanova, 2018, Bulgaria, 61 mins
Bulgarian-born Miroslav Morski is an immigrant in London who has dedicated his life to music. After years of searching for direction, at 43 he gets a chance to start a family and finally make it as a musician. His Hackney-based band the Turbans, whose vibrant and melancholy “music from manywhere” reflects its members’ roots in Turkey, Bulgaria, Israel, Iran, Greece, Spain and England, are about to record their debut album. When Morski is asked to write the lyrics and sing the vocals on the bittersweet track “Sinko Moy”, the undertaking becomes an opportunity to make peace with the past and look into the future free of guilt.
Directed by Leonid Kanter and Ivan Yasniy, 2017, Ukraine, 62 mins
Myth is the story of Vasyl Slipak, a world-class opera singer with a unique and remarkable countertenor/bass baritone voice. Living in France for 19 years, he had everything that most would call happiness: fame and acclaim, fulfilling work, true friends and love. But when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, at the peak of Vasyl’s career, he left his life in Europe and his partner to head to the front lines in Donbas, insisting that his country needed him more than French opera did. Taking his nom de guerre, Mif (“myth” in Ukranian), from his favourite aria, Mephistopheles from the opera Faust, he joined the ranks of volunteers fighting Russian-backed separatists on Ukraine’s eastern front. Focusing on the human side of his remarkable and tragic story, this documentary captures the heroism and patriotism of “the voice from the Don” who died from a sniper’s bullet in June 2016.
Slave to the Grind
Directed by Doug Brown, 2018, Canada, 100 mins
If you lived in Flint, Michigan in the 1980s, you likely worked in an auto factory, and if you lived in Birmingham, England, you likely worked in an industrial setting. If you were a teenager in either of these cities during those years, you either accepted your fate or broke the mould. In defiance of tradition, groups of punk rockers and metalheads in these respective cities created a new sound, and a new genre, that was too punk for metalheads and too heavy for punks. Grindcore fused the anarchistic and leftist attitudes of the UK punk scene with the speed and drunken aggression of death metal simultaneously being created in the US. When Napalm Death released their album Scum in 1986, legendary BBC DJ John Peel proclaimed grindcore the fastest and most abrasive sounding music imaginable, and he was right. Immediately musicians were torn. Many saw grindcore as an anticapitalist, cathartic blast, with lyrics that were often aggressively pro-life, anti-homophobic and anti-racist, served up as a resounding “fuck you” to the mainstream. The first documentary to capture the genre’s 35-year life span, Slave to the Grind takes viewers to Japan, the US, UK, Australia, Singapore, Finland and Sweden to focus on why the genre has persisted, and changed, over time.
About a Badly Drawn Boy: The Story of The Hour Of Bewilderbeast
Directed by The Mitcham Submarine, 2018, UK, 95 mins
An in-depth feature film all about the boy himself, Damon Gough, and the legacy of his Mercury Prize-winning album The Hour of Bewilderbeast, 18 years after its 2000 release. Damon talks about his musical upbringing, the mix tape cassettes his mother made him, the first record he bought and the first concert he attended. The story continues with Damon meeting his creative collaborator and business partner Andy Votel and how together they founded the Twisted Nerve label in Manchester in the late 1990s. We hear of the influences Damon brought to the album, the songwriting process and stories behind the songs, musicians, producers and album artwork. Featuring exclusive new interviews with Damon and acoustic performances of songs from the album filmed in the Gough family print factory in Bolton and his home in Manchester, the film also includes previously unseen archive footage and photographs, animation and more. We hear from Andy Votel, musicians Jane Weaver, Ian Smith (Alfie), Jimi Goodwin (Doves), Guy Garvey (Elbow) and Ghostpoet, Damon’s big brother Simon Gough, Grammy award-winning producer Ken Nelson, XL Recordings’ Richard Russell, film director Garth Jennings, journalist Luke Bainbridge, DJ Pete Mitchell, 2000 Mercury Music Prize judge Fleur Sarfaty, Square One Studio’s Bob Little and artist Joe Simpson.
How They Got Over: Black Quartets and the Road to Rock’n’Roll
Directed by Robert Clem, 2017, USA, 87 mins
In the decades following the Second World War, the broad reach of radio and record sales helped black gospel quartets spread throughout African-American communities across the US. Using archival performance clips and interviews with pioneers of the genre, How They Got Over tells the story not only of how these artists reached audiences ,but went through their daily lives in a segregated society…and along the way paved the road to rock’n’roll from doo-wop and from R&B to soul and hip-hop.
So, which band is your boyfriend in….?
Directed by Suzy Harrison, 2018, UK 2018, 97 min
So, which band is your boyfriend in? is a documentary exploring gender in the UK’s DIY and underground music scenes. Heavily involved in music since childhood, director Suzy Harrison was increasingly struck by how few other girls and women were involved. What was stopping them? In this film, she gives a voice to individuals who have been involved in music, but never had the opportunity to share their stories on camera. This groundbreaking exploration documents current experiences, challenges and changes from the viewpoint of musicians not identifying as male.
Suzy’s aim was to make a film to raise awareness of the experiences of those in the scene, in the hope that it will lead to positive change. Her filmmaking approach mirrors the ethos of the music scene she is a part of: if you want to create something, don’t let anything stop you; do it yourself. Suzy is not only the director of this independent debut, she is also the interviewer, editor and producer.
Pure Love: The Voice Of Ella Fitzgerald
Directed by Katja Duregger, 2017, Germany, 52 mins
Focusing on the phenomenon of her extraordinary voice, this film pays tribute to The First Lady of Song – Ella Fitzgerald – a century after her birth. Fitzgerald’s voice is a phenomenon and unrivalled to this day. With absolute pitch and perfect intonation, her voice spanned three octaves, her phrasing seemed effortless, and the odd moments in her nearly 60-year career when she sang off-key were few and far between. There is almost no style of music in which she did not excel, and her numerous – now legendary – recordings of the Great American Songbook with pieces by US composers such as George and Ira Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Cole Porter and Duke Ellington remained a benchmark for the interpretation of those songs for generations of singers. Ira Gershwin is rumoured to have said: “I didn’t realise how good our songs were until Ella sang them.” Director Katia Duregger unravels the secret of Fitzgerald’s voice via insights from singers Dianne Reeves and Dee Dee Bridgewater, jazz drummer and producer Terri Lyne Carrington, jazz violinist Regina Carter, author Tad Hershorn and the eminent jazz critic Will Friedwald, among others.
Ethiopiques: Revolt of the Soul
Directed by Maciek Bochniak, 2017, Poland/Germany, 70 mins
In the late 1960s, in the capital of Ethiopia, record store owner-turned-music producer Amha Eshete noticed something strange: there was no Ethiopian music being produced and sold in his country. Herein began the birth of recorded Ethiopian music, imbued with the flavours of funk, soul and jazz. Despite being illegal at the time, the music was celebrated by the people and tolerated by the country’s monarch. But in 1975, new governmental powers hit the pause button on this new musical expression, forcing Eshete into exile and imprisoning many artists. Like many great stories, however, things did not end there. A 1970s recording from Mahmoud Ahmed fell into the hands of Francis Falceto, a French music journalist, who was smitten by the sound. He embarked on a two-decade long journey that took him to Ethiopia and the United States in an attempt to revive Ethiopian music and share it with the world. Maciek Bochniak’s film weaves together interviews with Eshete, Falceto, and many of the Ethiopian musicians – including Girma Bèyènè, pianist and arranger for the Walias Band – who played key roles in this unique musical culture.
Listen to My Song
Directed by. Danny Mitchell, 2018, UK, 49 mins
Esteban escaped poverty in the ghetto by running away from home at the age of 13 and joining Colombia’s FARC guerrillas. With the peace process finally under way after long decades of conflict, Esteban’s life changes when he performs at a peace concert and is spotted by a famous Colombian producer. When he is invited to perform in Bogota, a career as a musician begins to look like a possibility rather than a distant dream. However, he must first make his own peace with his past and reconnect with his family in Cali. If his achievement is possible, perhaps it’s conceivable that country can move on, too, from its troubled past.
So where and when can you see these documentaries?
Thurs 1st November
6.45pm – Barbican Centre
Our Most Brilliant Friends (World Premiere + Q&A)
Fri 2nd November
6:30pm – The Photographers’ Gallery
Kojey Radical short film (World Premiere + Q&A)
9.00pm – Genesis Cinema
We Are The League (How Deep Do You Want It?) (World Premiere + Q&A)
Sat 3rd November
3.00pm – Curzon Soho
Some Other Guys – The Story of The Big Three (London Premiere + Q&A)
The Big Three
4.00pm – Rio Dalston
Something Left Behind (London Premiere + Q&A)
The Wedding Present
6.30pm – Picturehouse Central
My View: Clem Burke (London Premiere + Q&A)
Sun 4th November
2.30pm – Genesis Cinema
RocKabul (UK Premiere + Q&A)
4.00pm – Barbican Centre
Mantra: Sounds into Silence (UK premiere + Q&A)
5.30pm – Rio Dalston
Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records + Q&A
Wed 7th November
8.00pm – Everyman King’s Cross Cinema
Never Stop – A Music That Resists (UK Premiere + Q&A)
Detroit Techno followed by after party at Spiritland
Thur 8th November
6.30pm – Picturehouse Central
I Can Only Be Mary Lane (UK Premiere + Q&A)
8.45pm – Barbican Centre
Anorac (London Premiere + Q&A)
Welsh-language pop music
Friday 9th November
6.30pm – Picturehouse Central
Is It Punk Music? (UK Premiere + Q&A)
Sat 10th November
3.00pm – The Castle Cinema
Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records
3.30pm – Barbican Centre
Anne Clark: I’ll Walk Out Into Tomorrow (UK Premiere + Q&A)
6.00pm – Curzon Soho
Silvana (London Premiere + Q&A)
7.00pm – Genesis Cinema
Stories from She Punks (World Premiere + Q&A)
Sun 11th November
3.00pm – Picturehouse Central
Blue Note Records – Beyond the Notes (London Premiere + Q&A)
4.00pm – Rio Dalston
Sepultura Endurance (UK Premiere)
5.00pm – Curzon Soho
The Library Music Film (London Premiere + Q&A)
Mon 12th November
8.45pm – Barbican Centre
Chilly Gonzales – Shut Up and Play The Piano + Q&A
Tue 13th November
8.30pm – Rich Mix
My Darling Son: Morski & The Turbans (UK Premiere + Q&A)
Wed 14th November
6.30pm – Picturehouse Central
Myth (UK Premiere + Q&A)
Vasyl Slipak Opera Singer
8.30pm – Rich Mix
Slave to the Grind (London Premiere + Q&A)
Thur 15th November
8.45pm – Ritzy
Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records
9.10pm – Picturehouse Central
About a Badly Drawn Boy: The Story of The Hour Of Bewilderbeast (London Premiere + Q&A)
Sat 17th November
1.00pm – Ronnie Scotts
Blue Note Records – Beyond the Notes + Q&A
4.00pm – Picturehouse Central
How They Got Over: Black Quartets and the Road to Rock’n’Roll (UK Premiere + Q&A)
6.30pm – Genesis Cinema
So, Which Band Is Your Boyfriend In…? (London Premiere + Q&A)
UK Female DIY and underground scene
Sun 18th November
4.00pm – Bertha Doc House
Pure Love: The Voice Of Ella Fitzgerald
5.30pm – Curzon Soho
Ethiopiques: Revolt of the Soul (UK Premiere + Q&A)
6.00pm – Picturehouse Central
Listen To My Song (World Premiere + Q&A)
Ex FARC Colombian musician Esteban