From girl-powered punk to G funk: the best music films at the BFI London Film Festival

Taking place October 4-15, the LFF will be plugging into punk, Elvis, folk and the swinging 1960s

Enough already about Cannes and the Venice Film Festival – turns out we’ve got our own homegrown film fest that’s just as good. What’s more, the BFI London Film Festival always has a highly decent selection of music movies and this year is no exception. Here’s the festival’s programmer Kate Taylor to take us through the best on offer this October.

G Funk

Kate: “G Funk tells the story of the 1990s sound that transformed hip-hop into a global phenomenon and how three friends from East Long Beach changed the world. Warren G, Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg combined the melodic elements of Motown, funk and R&B with the visceral sound of gangsta rap. The result was a smooth, laid back and melodic brand of hip hop where the rhythm is the bass and the bass is the treble…”.

Hear to be Heard: The Story of The Slits



“Fronted by the irrepressible and iconoclastic Ari Up, The Slits were the pioneering godmothers of punk, formed in 1976, who inspired a generations of artists, from Sonic Youth to Sleater Kinney. This riveting documentary draws on stunning personal archive footage and interviews with key surviving band members, Here to be Heard tells the story of a group that literally changed the cultural landscape of Britain in the patriarchal 1970s with their furious feminist battle cry.”

The Ballad of Shirley Collins

“The remarkable story of one of the great British folk singers whose voice, once lost, makes a welcome return. Shirley Collins, widely regarded as the 20th century’s most important singer of English traditional song, mysteriously lost her voice in 1980. An authentic 1959 audio-archive is at the heart of this documentary’s journey, recounting the tale of Collins’ seminal road-trip around America’s Deep South alongside her then-lover (and pre-eminent ethnomusicologist) Alan Lomax.”

My Generation

“Presented by Michael Caine, My Generation playfully explores the impact of Britain’s working class cultural revolution of the 1960s. With Caine as a cracking host and ranconteur, the documentary features contributions from Marianne Faithfull, Paul McCartney, Twiggy, David Bailey and Mary Quant, and a spot-on soundtrack from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Who making for an exhilarating journey back in time. And you’re guaranteed to leave the cinema whistling ‘Waterloo Sunset’.”

Promised Land


“Comparing Elvis Presley’s life and times with everyday existence in Trump’s America, acclaimed documentary filmmaker Eugene Jarecki uses Presley’s 1963 Rolls Royce to travel across states that resonate with the singer’s life, and reflect the contrasting facets of contemporary American life. The result is both entertaining and thought-provoking, as actors including Ethan Hawke and Alec Baldwin, and musicians such as John Hiatt and Emmylou Harris join the ride, some even performing in the car.”

The BFI London Film Festival takes place October 4-15