Last, but certainly not least, the music documentaries of SXSW 2008. As before, descriptions come from the festival, notes are supplied by yours truly:
Directed by Ceri Levy
An in-depth and revealing glimpse at the cryptic cartoon band, Gorillaz. (North American Premiere)
Of further note: Levy previously worked with Gorillaz co-founder Jamie Albarn on a '90s-era Blur documentary, STARSHAPED.
LOU REED'S BERLIN
Directed by Julian Schnabel.
An artful document of musical legend Lou Reed, performing his influential record, "Berlin," to audiences in New York City. (U.S. Premiere)
Of further note: Premiered in Venice last year and had it's North American premiere in Toronto.
SHINE A LIGHT
Directed by Martin Scorsese
A career-spanning documentary on the Rolling Stones, with concert footage from their "A Bigger Bang" tour. (North American Premiere)
Of further note: Premieres in Berlin tonight as the opening night selection. An all-star team of cinematographers worked on the film, including Ellen Kuras, Emmanuel Lubezki, Albert Maysles, Declan Quinn and Robert Richardson.
Directed by Stephen Walker
The touching and heartfelt portrait of a New England senior citizens chorus that has delighted audiences worldwide with their covers of songs by everyone from The Clash to Coldplay. (Closing Night Film)
Of further note: Had US premiere at Los Angeles Film Festival and also screened at Sundance. Searchlight is planning a spring release. Has already aired on UK television.
24 BEATS PER SECOND
BLIP FESTIVAL: REFORMAT THE PLANET
Directed by Paul Owens
A documentary look at the movement known as ChipTunes, a vibrant underground scene based around creating new, original music using old video game hardware. (World Premiere)
Of further note: You can see the trailer at /film.
Directed by Jerry Rothwell
Heavy Load are a punk outfit subject to the combustible flux of ego, ambition, fantasy, expectation and desire that fuels any emerging band. But they're also, uniquely, made up of musicians with and without learning disabilities. (World Premiere)
Of further note: Rothwell recently co-directed the Cinema Eye nominated DEEP WATER.
HEAVY METAL IN BAGHDAD
Directed by Suroosh Alvi
Playing heavy metal in a Muslim country has always been a difficult proposition, but after Saddam’s regime was toppled, there was a brief moment for the band in which real freedom seemed possible. (U.S. Premiere)
Of further note: Premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival. Here is a summary of thoughts from that festival.
Directed by Negin Farsad
"Nerdcore" is the newest, dorkiest wave of hip-hop, born out of the internet and made possible by computer-obsessed geeks. (World Premiere)
Of further note: Farsad is a producer/director on the Comedy Central web series The Watch List.
OF ALL THE THINGS
Directed by Jody Lambert
A Filipino concert promoter has been begging Dennis Lambert (one of the most successful and gifted songwriter/producers of the ‘70s and ‘80s) to come tour for decades. Thirty-five years after the release of his solo album, he finally agreed. (World Premiere)
Of further note: Dennis Lambert wrote Coven's 1969 anti-war anthem "One Tin Soldier".
THROW DOWN YOUR HEART
Directed by Sascha Paladino
Cameras follow American banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck on his journey to Africa to explore the little known African roots of the banjo, and record an album. (World Premiere)
Of further note: Paladino is the producer/head writer on Nickelodeon's excellent new series "Ni Hao, Kai-lan", which premieres this AM.
THE UPSETTER: THE LIFE & MUSIC OF LEE "SCRATCH" PERRY
Directed by Ethan Higbee and Adam Bhala Lough
The fascinating story of Lee "Scratch" Perry, a visionary musician and artist from poor rural Jamaica who soon became of the most influential artists in reggae and dub. (World Premiere)
Of further note: Lough was nominated for a 2004 Independent Spirit Award for his feature BOMB THE SYSTEM.
WESLEY WILLIS'S JOYRIDES
Directed by Chris Bagley and Kim Shively
A portrait of the self-proclaimed rock 'n' roll star and Chicago city artist, Wesley Willis. (Regional Premiere)
Of further note: Premiered at Slamdance.
THE WRECKING CREW
Directed by Denny Tedesco
You heard them playing on the Beach Boys hits, on the Mamas and the Papas' recordings, on Frank Sinatra records, on Monkees' singles, and they were Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. Most likely, you never heard their name. If you knew who they were, you called them "the Wrecking Crew." (World Premiere)
Of further note: Tedesco's father was the renowned session musician, Tommy Tedesco, who, in addition to playing with Elvis, the Beach Boys and Frank Sinatra, was also the guitarist for the US premiere of the Rocky Horror Show.
AGILE, MOBILE, HOSTILE: A YEAR WITH ANDRE WILLIAMS
Directed by Eric Matthies and Tricia Todd
A year in the life of Andre Williams, one of the unsung heroes of the American R&B community, who walks us through the hard life he's led over five decades of making music. (World Premiere)
Of further note: Matthies and Todd previously collaborated on the doc short AYAMYE, chronicling an effort to send used bicycles to Africa. Full disclosure - I am the Executive Producer on this film.
HERE IS WHAT IS
Directed by Adam Vollick & Adam Samuels
An invitation to experience a year of creation, looking over Daniel Lanois’ shoulder. His psychedelic past emerges throughout the film as the hyperrealism of the in-studio documentation is contrasted by moments of wild fantasia. (U.S. Premiere)
Of further note: The film premiered at Toronto.
Directed by Grant Gee
The filmmakers investigate why Joy Division's collective musical genius and singular vision enjoys a larger audience and influence thirty years on. (U.S. Premiere)
Of further note: JOY DIVISION premiered at Toronto, where it was picked up by the Weinstein Co. We covered the response to the film here. Gee directed the well-regarded Radiohead documentary MEETING PEOPLE IS EASY.
THE NIGHT JAMES BROWN SAVED BOSTON
Directed by David Leaf
A documentary look at the historic James Brown concert, held just days after Martin Luther King's assassination, when the city of Boston was ready to boil. (Work-In-Progress)
Of further note: The Boston Phoenix rated this show the greatest concert in Boston history. Leaf co-directed THE U.S. VS. JOHN LENNON and is one of the most prolific creators of music documentaries around.
THE SWEET LADY WITH THE NASTY VOICE
Directed by Vincent Kralyevich
This documentary is the culmination of a two-year journey with Wanda Jackson, now 70, in performances across the United States and Europe. (World Premiere)
Of further note: Wanda Jackson sings one of my favorite country songs of the late 1960s - "A Girl Don't Have to Drink to Have Fun".
WE DREAMED AMERICA
Directed by Alex Walker
A documentary that delves deep into the dark and hilarious recesses of the British Americana music scene, exploring the gritty underworld of the New British Country movement. (U.S. Premiere)
Of further note: Here's the trailer.