Doc’n Roll Film Festival, the UK’s music documentary festival, returns to London for its second edition from September 25 to October 4, 2015. The 2015 Doc’n Roll Film Festival will open with the UK premiere of Morphine: Journey of Dreams, the story of the unique and genre-blurring trio Morphine told through rare performance footage and tour journals, plus a Q&A with the film’s director Mark Shuman. Ten days later the festival will come to a close with the Theatrical World premiere of Lost Songs – The Basement Tapes Continued, a behind the scenes look at a two week recording session with some of today’s most talented musicians as they create new music using long-lost Bob Dylan lyrics from the iconic Basement Tapes sessions.
Fascinating documentary Ron Geesin – An Improvised Life will receive its world premiere at the festival on 3rd October with both the filmmaker Tom McInnes and composer Ron Geesin in attendance for a post-film Q&A. Other premieres include the world premiere for the story of Ireland’s seminal rock band Taste: What’s Going On – Live at the Isle of Wight Festival (3rd Oct), and European premieres for Mexican music and Spanish poetry fusion The Nightingale and The Night (29th Sep), Boogaloo history We Like It Like That (2 Oct), and Shake The Dust (1st Oct), a film exploring the influences of breakdancing around the world, exec-produced by rapper Nas.
Two archive and interview based docs from either side of the Atlantic tell the stories of very different, but equally influential, musical innovators: Don Hardy’s Theory of Obscurity: A film about The Residents (26th Sep) charts the 40-year story of the mysterious art-rocker collective The Residents while filmmaker Grant McPhee meticulously charts (his film was 10 years in the making) the early Scottish indie scene through the story of record labels Fast Product and Postcard Records in The Sound of Young Scotland – The Big Gold Dream (2nd Oct).
Other festival highlights include a special screening of the soul-filled Mavis!; intimate portrait of Flamenco legend Paco de Lucia: A Journey, tales of rock ‘n’ roll debauchery Johnny Winter: Down and Dirty, a profile of American and Irish folk musicians The Gloaming: Moment to Moment, and DIY punk doc Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC (1980-90).
Morphine: Journey of Dreams
(Dir Mark Shuman 91 min 2015 USA/Italy)
The story of the iconic genre-busting 1990s ‘Low Rock’ band Morphine told by its surviving members and the coterie around them, without narration, and made palpable through saxophonist Dana Colley’s tour journals. Rare live performances from throughout the group’s career are woven into the tale and display why the trio’s unique and mesmeric sound continues to resonate with its fans and music lovers worldwide. An artfully delivered film which documents the career and life of the peerless musical act and their resonant musical creativity by getting inside the music and soul of the band.
Theory of Obscurity: A film about The Residents
(Dir Don Hardy Duration 87 min 2015 USA)
The avant-garde music and multimedia collective known as The Residents has never revealed the identity of its members, always appearing in costume in extravagant live musical performances and filmed projects. Don Hardy’s fast-paced documentary tells the story of the group’s start in rural North Louisiana, their artistic awakening in late-‘60s San Francisco and follows them to the present day where they are still going strong creating and performing. The film employs a trove of archival material alongside contemporary performances and interviews with the band’s longtime “business managers” the Cryptic Corporation, as well as a wide variety of creative minds – including Penn Jillette, Jerry Harrison, Les Claypool of Primus, Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening and members of Neurosis, Henry Cow and Ween – drawn to the group’s uncompromising focus on creative control over conventional commercial success.
(Dir Jessica Edwards 80 min 2015 USA)
The first feature-length documentary on gospel/soul music legend and civil rights icon Mavis Staples and her family group the Staple Singers. The film moves from the delta-inflected gospel sound she helped pioneer in the 1950s and the message songs of the civil rights era marching beside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to her massive success with hits including I’ll Take You There during the soul-filled Stax era and her more recent Grammy-winning work with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. With dynamic live performances, rarely-seen archival footage and conversations with friends and collaborators including Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Levon Holm, Chuck D, Julian Bond, Sharon Jones and more, Mavis! reveals the struggles and successes of the journey of one of the most influential and enduring vocalists of our time, and a true American icon.
Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC (1980-90)
(Dir Scott Crawford Duration 90min 2014 USA)
A documentary film that examines the early DIY punk scene in the Nation’s Capital. 1980-90 was a decade when seminal bands like Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Government Issue, Scream, Void, Faith, Rites of Spring, Marginal Man, Fugazi, and others released their own records and booked their own shows – without major record label constraints or mainstream media scrutiny. Contextually, it was a cultural watershed that predated the alternative music explosion of the 1990s (and the industry’s subsequent implosion). Thirty years later, DC’s original DIY punk spirit serves as a reminder of the hopefulness of youth, the power of community and the strength of conviction.
Paco de Lucia: A Journey
(Dir Curro Sánchez 95 min 2014 Spain)
An intimate and exhilarating look at the life of legendary flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia, composed of modern-day interviews and a wealth of archival footage. Featuring B.B King, Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin and directed by de Lucia’s son Curro Sánchez, the film captures a relaxed and candid side of the great musician and his unparalleled talent.
The Nightingale and the Night
(Dir Rubén Rojo Aura Duration 73 min 2015 Mexico)
This is the story of Mexican singer Chavela Vargas and the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca. Poetry and music are their meeting points. Chavela’s gut-wrenching renditions of Mexican popular classics and revolutionary ballads, combined with her hard-drinking, pistol packing lifestyle, ensured she lived her own legend to the fullest. The ninety year old woman and Hispanic emblem fulfilled her last wish in her last year of life: to make a tribute to the allegorical poet from Granada and finally, to meet once again, her beloved friend in the ranks of death. This is a documentary that reveals the transition of Chavela from life to death, her union with Federico, dissolving the borders between these two worlds and between reality and dreams.
Johnny Winter: Down and Dirty
(Dir Greg Olliver 80 min 2014 USA)
Lemmy co-director/producer Greg Olliver spent two years following Johnny Winter from his home in Connecticut to France, Japan and beyond to create an intimate portrait of the Texas musician who played at Woodstock, partied with the Rolling Stones and John Belushi, dated Janis Joplin, and jammed with Jimi
Hendrix. Aptly named Johnny Winter: Down and Dirty by Johnny himself, this documentary explores what it’s like to live a life of sex, drugs and rock & roll debauchery with only a few regrets, but not without consequences. Featuring Edgar Winter, James Cotton, Clive Davis, Billy Gibbons, Warren Haynes, Luther Nallie, Joe Perry, Tommy Shannon, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks and more.
Shake The Dust
(Dir Adam Sjöberg 108 min 2014 USA)
From journalist-turned-filmmaker Adam Sjöberg and executive producer and rapper Nasir “Nas” Jones, Shake the Dust chronicles the influence of breakdancing, exploring how it strikes a resonant chord in the slums, favelas and ghettos of the world and far beyond. Criss-crossing from Colombia, to Yemen, to Uganda and onwards to Cambodia and showcasing some of the most jaw-dropping breakdancing moves ever committed to film, Shake the Dust is an inspiring tribute to the uplifting power of music and movement.
The Sound of Young Scotland – The Big Gold Dream
(Dir Grant McPhee 94 min 2015 UK)
Big Gold Dreams is the first music documentary to focus on two influential Scottish independent record labels – Fast Product and Postcard Records – that operated in the post-punk years. The two labels were only small but had a significant role in creating what would go on to be known as indie rock. Fast Product was an Edinburgh label, which was the brainchild of Bob Last. It began at the height of punk but quickly began promoting acts that were committed to developing this raw music into new unchartered territories. Postcard Records, on the other hand, were a Glasgow label formed by Alan Horne; its recording artists were more accessible and pop orientated than their east coast rivals but were perhaps an even greater influence on the sound of the future alternative rock scene. Fast Product released records by influential left-field outfits such as Scars, The Mekons, The Human League and Dead Kennedys; Postcard’s roster of acts included Orange Juice, Josef K, Aztec Camera and The Go-Betweens. It almost seemed like Fast were on the post-punk side of the fence, while Postcard were the new wave guys.
We Like It Like That – Boogaloo
(Dir Mathew Ramirez Warren 82 min 2014 USA)
Latin boogaloo is the product of the melting pot of funk, soul and Cuban influences, a colorful expression of 1960s Latino soul, straight from the streets of El Barrio, the South Bronx and Brooklyn. Starring Latin boogaloo legends such as Joe Bataan, Johnny Colon and Pete Rodriguez, We Like It Like That
explores this lesser-known, but pivotal moment in Latin music history, through original interviews, music recordings, live performances, dancing and rare archival footage and images. From its origins through to its recent resurgence in popularity, We Like It Like That tells the story of a sound that redefined a
generation and was too funky to keep down.
Ron Geesin – An Improvised Life
(Dir Tom McInnes 60 min 2015 UK)
Although best known for his profound collaboration with Pink Floyd on their first No. 1 album Atom Heart Mother, Geesin has had a multi-layered career as a musician, composer, performer, humorist, writer and collector. This intriguing profile of his life features contributions from Pete Townsend, Peter Gabriel, Nick Mason, David Gilmour, Robert Wyatt, and Bridget St. John.
Taste: What’s Going On – Live at The Isle of Wight Festival 1970
(Dir Murray Lerner 82 min 1971 USA)
The film tells the story of Ireland’s seminal rock band Taste, formed in Cork in 1966 by Rory Gallagher. They had a brief but influential career, releasing two studio albums in 1969 and 1970 and disbanding shortly after their legendary appearance at the 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival, which is the centerpiece of this film. The core of the film is the band’s performance at the festival on August 28th but it is encapsulated by a documentary on the history and importance of Taste and setting the scene for their Isle Of Wight Festival appearance. The film features contributions from Rory’s brother and Taste road manager Donal Gallagher along with Brian May (Queen), The Edge (U2), Bob Geldof and renowned guitarist Larry Coryell.
Taste’s performance at the festival was so well received that when Jimi Hendrix was asked at the festival, ‘How does it feel to be the best guitarist in the world’, he replied, ‘I don’t know, why don’t you go and ask Rory Gallagher?’
The Gloaming: Moment to Moment
(Dir Philip King and Nuala O’Connor 55 min 2014 Ireland)
This is a film about five individuals for whom artistic freedom is a given. Their work both as individuals and as a group has been viewed as a departure from the guiding principles and precepts of practice from within the traditional Irish music establishment. The regard of the artistic world for The Gloaming outside of the expected genre has sometimes served to reinforce the impression of the group as iconoclasts. The band sees themselves as no different from any other collective of musicians who share a common agenda – to make music unfettered by imposed limitations.
Lost Songs – The Basement Tapes Continued
(Dir Sam Jones 106 min 2014 USA)
A documentary that goes behind the scenes with some of today’s most talented songwriters as they make new music based on long-lost, newly discovered lyrics from Bob Dylan’s legendary Basement Tapes sessions. T-Bone Burnett brings Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens, Taylor Goldsmith, Jim James, and Marcus Mumford together in a dramatic, cross-generational two-week studio session at Capitol Studios. The film features an exclusive interview with Bob Dylan and a cameo from Johnny Depp as a supporting guitarist.