2015 looks set to be a golden year for music documentaries. Here are our top picks.
Montage of Heck
Top of our must-see list is Montage of Heck, the eight years in making Kurt Cobain film by director Brett Morgen. Featuring the Nirvana frontman’s home movies mixed in with revelatory interviews with his friends and family, it premieres on January 24 at Utah’s Sundance Film Festival before a theatrical release in the UK this spring.
Documenting the rise of hardcore in Washington DC, Scott Crawford’s Kickstarter-funded Salad Days focuses on bands like Minor Threat, Rites of Spring, Fugazi, Bad Brains and Dag Nasty to tell the story of a city and its changing ideals throughout the 1980s. Dave Grohl, Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins are on hand for top talking heads action.
Untitled Beatles Movie
Yep, Richie Cunningham from Happy Days is at it again. Fanboy Ron Howard is behind a new Beatles film, which will focus on the band’s early days and feature interviews with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison. Howard will also be digitally re-jigging old Super 8 footage for the movie, which he calls a “fantastic challenge”.
All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records
Another Kickstarter funded flick, this has Mad Men actor Colin – son of Tom - Hanks in the director’s chair. Looking at the man behind the once-massive Tower Records chain, Russ Solomon, who built the company up from scratch, it also digs into the music empire’s eventual downfall.
No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers
Premiering on January 30 in the band’s hometown of Cardiff, No Manifesto is the project of fan Elizabeth Marcus, who began work the film 10 years ago. Made in a ‘collage’ style, in tribute to the Manics’ own creative process, it mixes together interviews with over 100 fans as well as the group themselves.
With an A-list cast of contributors onboard – including Arthur Baker, Pharrell Williams, Afrika Bambaataa, Fatboy Slim, Rick Rubin, The Beastie Boys and Diplo – 808 is all about ‘The heart of the beat that changed music’. A loving tribute to the drum machine at the core of modern hip-hop and the foundations of house and electronica.
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Another film premiering this month at Sundance, What Happened, Miss Simone? looks at the legendary blues singer Nina Simone’s fight for civil rights as well as her accomplished musical career. A Netflix funded documentary, it uses previously unseen footage, diaries and personal letters to tell Simone’s fascinating story.
Heartworn Highways Revisited
Fans of outlaw country music will be familiar with the original Heartworn Highways, the beautiful, Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark starring 1976 music movie. This update looks at the next generation of leftfield Nashville artists, with Justin Townes Earle, Andrew Combs, Langhorne Slim, Jonny Fritz and Nikki Lane swaggering onto the screen.
Untitled MIA film
This off-again, on-again MIA movie is back on track and apparently set for release later this year. After reportedly dropping out, director Steve Loveridge has returned to the project, that will see high-end cameos from Kanye West to Julian Assange and look into the private life of one of pop music’s most controversial, outspoken figures.
The Drop: The EDM Culture Explosion
Like it, loathe it, or really fucking hate it, the impact of EDM has become impossible to ignore. The Drop digs deep into how and why the shameless dance phenomenon got quite so gigantic, by talking to fans and the fabulously wealthy artists behind it.
Backstreet Boys: Show 'Em What You're Made Of
Yes, those Backstreet Boys. But before you run screaming to the comfort of your Parquet Courts album, this tell-all flick looks like it could actually be quite entertaining - not least because we're pretty sure you'll get to see various members of the Teflon-coated boyband break down in floods of tears.
The House That Chicago Built
The fact that the late Frankie Knuckles features is reason enough to check out The House That Chicago Built. Picking apart the history of house and tracking its metamorphosis into EDM, DJ Lil Louis is in the directors chair for their exhaustive documentary. Don't worry, we won't blame you if you start dancing in the cinema.