The 2021 Sundance Film Festival, 29 January – 3 February, is taking place in a unique form this year with online screenings and a traveling roadshow type presentation, bringing all its narrative and documentary films to cinemas across the United States. Perennially, the go to festival event for those films we will be hearing much about across the coming months, the Sundance programming committee always features content that is as entertaining as it is informative, and the documentary selections are the perfect example. This year, Sundance will feature 4 music documentaries, 2 shorts and 2 features, including the non-fiction debut of one Edgar Wright. We thought we’d take a closer look at the music docs of Sundance 2021 and, who knows, maybe one or two will feature with us sometime!
A Concerto is a Conversation
Dir: Ben Proudfoot, Kris Bowers
Prod: Lindsay Crouse, Ben Proudfoot, Jeremy Lambert, Kris Bowers
Young filmmaker Ben Proudfoot’s documentary follows Grammy-nominated, Emmy Award–winning, and Juilliard-educated pianist and composer Kris Bowers. Across its 13 minutes, this New York Times Op-Doc selection tracks tracks Bowers’ family lineage through his 91-year old grandfather from Jim Crow Florida all the way through to Walt Disney Concert Hall.
In the Air Tonight
Dir: Andrew Norman Wilson
Prod: Andrew Norman Wilson
We all now the song: Phil Collins’ 1980 smash ‘In the Air Tonight’, with its haunting lyrics and legendary drum break. In this 11 minute short documentary, director Andrew Norman Wilson is an insiders take on the meaning behind the songs mysterious inspirations. Was it a song documenting a divorce, or something a bit more nefarious?
The Sparks Brothers
Dir: Edgar Wright
Prod: Nira Park, Edgar Wright, George Hencken, Laura Richardson
The Sparks Brothers is the debut documentary from Baby Driver director Edgar Wright. It is the story of Sparks, one of those in the “your favourite band’s favourite band” conversation. But, as we all know, many such bands are not as prominent outside this label. In this spirited documentary, Wright documents almost a half century worth of pop culture offerings from the Los Angeles duo responsible for 25 studio albums.
Summer Of Soul (…or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Dir. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
Prod: David Dinerstein, Robert Fyvolent, Joseph Patel
From legendary Roots drummer and music archivist Questlove, Summer Of Soul talks of a certain 1969 music event. No, it’s not Woodstock but rather the Harlem Cultural Festival. This series was attended by some 300,000 people and filmed in its entirety, only for the footage to sit unwatched for some 50 years. Now, for the first time, Summer Of Soul shines a light on this pillar of African American music history seminal in the intersection of Black history, culture, fashion, and music.