Every year, the Sundance Film Festival hosts an impressive number of independent films, documentaries, and short films from all around the world. Titles like The Usual Suspects, Memento, Reservoir Dogs, Clerks, Napoleon Dynamite, Super-Size Me, Saw, and Little Miss Sunshine have all found success at the world-renowned festival. So it’s no surprise that this years line-up is definitely keeping with that reputation. A number of documentaries, including the Amir Bar-Lev’s Grateful Dead tribute Long Strange Trip and Jeff Orlowski’s follow-up to his 2012 Chasing Ice feature, Chasing Coral, have already premiered to great praise from festival attendees and critics alike. At the same time, a number of films have already been purchased for distribution, including Patti Cake$ by former doorman-turned-filmmaker Wass Stevens, which sold to Fox Searchlight for $10.5 million! Here are a few of the festival entries that have caught our eye for expanded release. We’ll post more information about domestic releases as we get further into the year. Continue reading →
Martin Scorsese agreed to serve as producer for an official Grateful Dead documentary back in October 2014. The Dead’s 50th anniversary was coming up the following year, and filmmakers wanted to have the project ready for the celebration. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, and the landmark event was ultimately celebrated with a massive 3-day concert over the 4th of July weekend in Chicago’s Soldier Field. Original members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, and Phil Lesh reunited on-stage for the event, which proved a huge success, despite the absence of Jerry Garcia, who died in 1995. Now, however, the 6-part documentary, appropriately titled Long Strange Trip from director Amir Bar-Lev (The Tillman Story, Happy Valley), is set to premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival before being released on Amazon Prime this May. Continue reading →
This Friday you will probably be able to see a solid cloud of weed-smoke coming out of Soldier Field, as ‘Deadheads’ will be pouring in from all around to see the final performances of The Grateful Dead. The band kicked off their final farewell concert series in Santa Clara, CA on June 27th, drawing crowds of 80,000 people each night. Fans in the Mid-west will be able to see the final shows this weekend at Chicago’s Soldier Field, which also marks a special location for the Dead: the group’s final performance with original member Jerry Garcia took place at Soldier Field nearly 20 years ago. For this final farewell, original members Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, and Mickey Hart will be performing with guitarist Trey Anastasio of Phish, and the performance is expected to be recorded and released as part of a special collection later this year. Deadheads should also keep an eye out for further news of the upcoming Grateful Dead documentary from executive producer Martin Scorsese (The Last Waltz, George Harrison: Living in the Material World) and director Amir Bar-Lev (The Tillman Story, Happy Valley) that is also expected out later this year. If you weren’t able to secure a ticket, or would just like to see the performance, several venues across the city will be showing a live broadcast of the concerts: Park West in the Lincoln Park neighborhood will be displaying the Friday and Saturday concerts for $32.50 (a live acoustic band is also included for the intermission) and City Winery in the West Loop will be displaying all three shows on a large projection screen for $18, so be sure to check these out if you really want to see them play! Enjoy!
This is possibly one of the coolest musical collaborations I’ve seen in a long time, and a great example of how technology has literally brought musicians together to collaborate…without being in the same place! An orchestra made up of multiple New York City subway musicians was organized by composer/conductor LJOVA (Lev Zhurbin), but the trick was that when they all finally played together, they were ALL at different locations. Carefully stationing individuals or small groups of musicians in various subway stations across the city that were accessible to WiFi networks, LJOVA used a total of 9 laptops to broadcast a live feed between the musicians and his location in Bryant Park, where he directed the small ensemble in a short symphonic composition he composed himself titled Signal Strength. The video was directed by Chris Shimojima and produced by Anita Anthonj, and features musicians Albert Behar (accordian), Ian Baggette (bass), Adam Matta (beatbox), Leah Coloff (cello), Jeremiah McFarlane and Carl Jacob (djembe, shekere), Amit Peled (guitar), Natalia Paruz (saw), Llamano (theremin), Jordan Hirsch (trumpet), and Allyson Clare (viola). This is an excellent use of technology in our modern era and another fine example of how music can reach us all…enjoy!
Recent news reports have surfaced about director Martin Scorsese serving as executive producer for an upcoming feature-documentary about the psychedelic rock band The Grateful Dead. Although the project has yet to be titled, Amir Bar-Lev is already set to direct the film, which will cover the entire span of the band’s career from 1965-1995. Biographer/archivist David Lemieux will be lending a hand to The Tillman Story director, who hopes to have the film ready by the time we reach the Grateful Dead’s 50th Anniversary. The documentary will include lots of archival footage and interviews with late band members Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, plus additional footage from surviving band members Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, and Phil Lesh. The Grateful Dead were formed in Palo Alto, California in 1965 and became well known for their psychedelic sound of rock, folk, and reggae fusion. Scorsese, himself, is well known for covering rock n’ roll icons. His last rock project was the George Harrison documentary Living in the Material World, but he has also covered groups like Bob Dylan, The Band and The Rolling Stones. We’ll keep an eye out for more news on this project. Scorsese is currently working on an upcoming rock n’ roll project for HBO featuring Olivia Wilde from a screenplay by Terence Winter (The Sopranos, The Wolf of Wall Street), so it will really fall to director Bar-Lev to get the project rolling, but we’ll keep an eye out for more news.