This week, The Music Universe will be in attendance at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. Beginning shortly after the events of 9/11, the festival was created to celebrate the vibrancy of Downtown New York City, which was the most heavily affected area post-9/11.
Now in its 16th year, the Tribeca Film Festival has become one of the premiere film festivals in the world, having spotlighted young filmmakers who have gone on to become A-list Hollywood directors, and featuring an eclectic mix of films, documentaries, shorts, and panel discussions. Music has become integral to the festival, often hosting world premieres of many musically-themed films and documentaries.
We’re looking forward to checking out a few of this year’s amazing crop of music documentaries which gives us all a great, first-hand look at the making of legends in the business. All film descriptions courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival.
In 1993, Sean “Diddy” Combs, aka Puff Daddy, founded Bad Boy Records, and in 2016, the Bad Boy Family reunited for the biggest homecoming in hip-hop history. Director Daniel Kaufman and Live Nation Productions share this raw and exclusive look behind the scenes at the history and legacy of Bad Boy through a complex portrait of the label’s mastermind, Sean “Puffy” Combs, as he reunites his Bad Boy Family over the course of a frantic three week rehearsal period. As the biggest names of Bad Boy prepare to reunite, the film also looks back to trace the label’s emergence in Harlem and Brooklyn, it’s meteoric rise, the tragic killing of Biggie Smalls, and the lasting influence on music, fashion, marketing and culture- all while revealing the love and commitment that form the bonds between the Bad Boy family. The screening will be followed by special concert at Radio City Music Hall featuring performances by Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Hudson, Earth, Wind & Fire, Dionne Warwick, Carly Simon and Barry Manilow.
Chris Perkel’s riveting profile of legendary music man Clive Davis spans a remarkable five-decade career, providing an incredible tour of the most sensational music of the cultural revolution, from the ’60s to the rise of hip-hop. Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Santana, Aretha Franklin, Barry Manilow, Patti Smith, Alicia Keys, Sean “Puffy” Combs, and a great many more attest to Davis as, in Aretha Franklin’s words, “the greatest record man of all time.” This amazing film is definitive, fascinating and ceaselessly entertaining proof.
A wonderfully nostalgic look back at WLIR 92.7, the Long Island-based radio station on the cutting edge of music throughout the 1980s. Going rogue, the station defied the record industry and played global imports before their release by literally picking up the singles at the airport,rushing back to the studio and spinning them live. Dare to Be Different features candid interviews and rare archival footage of U2, Blondie, Thompson Twins, Duran Duran, Joan Jett, The Cure, Billy Idol, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and Depeche Mode, among others. WLIR helped introduce most of these bands to a US audience while creating a community centered around the punk and new wave scene. Now, 30 years after it went off the air, director Ellen Goldfarb tells the story of the unique rise and fall of this independent cultural institution.
After the breakup of the Sex Pistols, frontman John Lydon, the former Johnny Rotten, was ready for the next challenge. The Sex Pistols had been one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most influential bands, it upset the miasma and complacencies of the 70’s rock establishment. But Lydon’s next step was Public Image Ltd. The band accumulated a legion of fans, went through countless style and personnel changes, and was responsible for such classics as “Public Image,” “Flowers of Romance,” and of course, “This Is Not a Love Song.” Lydon opens up the book and recalls, philosophizes, summarizes, comments, complains, and praises these years. Recollections from past and current band members (even Ginger Baker) fill in the gaps and add their own perspectives. Archival footage, from the infamous Ritz Show to Lydon’s somewhat-infamous presence in a butter commercial, round out this incisive, entertaining documentary. Though Mr. Lydon may have become more reflective in the years since “Anarchy in the UK,” he remains his incisive, witty, acerbic, entertaining self. Fasten your seat belts.
Soundtracks explores seminal moments in history through the music that defines them. Featuring original interviews with legendary musicians as well as celebrated journalists, historians, and writers, the series reveals how music has been a driving force behind social change. In a Tribeca screening at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York, the show will explore how songs like Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” took on new and heightened meaning, as music took center stage for a country fighting to heal.
Whitney Houston was a sure thing, or as sure as the music industry had ever seen. A transcendent talent with pedigree and mentorship to match, she was going to be the greatest female vocalist ever. For a time, she was, and then she all-too-publicly fell short.
Documentarian Nick Broomfield and iconic music video director Rudi Dolezal offer a never-before-seen backstage look at the height of Houston’s stardom and trace with penetrating detail the forces that contributed to her shortened career and subsequent death in 2012, at age 48. Whether it be racism, religion, drugs, sexuality, self-doubt, gossip, rivalry, insufficient training, the demands of parents and the industry, a troubled marriage playing out in headlines, or the inevitable toll those stresses take from so muscular and passionate a singer, the directors leave nothing unturned. They create a picture of a remarkable woman who needed more help than she received and provide an unflinching, gripping, and wholly committed exploration of talent given and taken away, in an era obsessed with how that talent lives when the stage lights go down.
Author: Rob Perez
Rob Perez is a freelance writer who has been with The Music Universe early on. As a Correspondent for The Music Universe, you will find him writing reviews and live tweeting awards shows.