Home / News / Doc’n Roll Film Festival’s 4th edition to take place in London from November 2nd to 19th 2017

Doc’n Roll Film Festival’s 4th edition to take place in London from November 2nd to 19th 2017

Doc’n Roll Film Festival, the UK’s Music Documentary Festival, returns for its fourth London edition with an extended programme running from 2nd to 19th November 2017. Doc’n Roll is proud to premiere music docs on subjects as diverse as Joe Cocker, Ella Fitzgerald, Syl Johnson, Link Ray, Bill Frisell, John Coltrane, Jawbreaker, GG Allin & The Murder Junkies, Tangerine Dream, Deer Tick, Lee Ranaldo, Årabrot, Death, Residente, the Ealing Club, Doom metal, the bass guitar, Manchester’s infamous clubbing scene and legendary producer Conny Plank (starring Devo, Eurythmics and Michael Rother).

This year’s edition features world, European, UK and London premieres, filmmaker and artist Q&As and live music events. Doc’n Roll is supported by the BFI using funds from The National Lottery to grow audience appetite and enjoyment for a wide range of independent British and international films.

Six of the films premiered at this year’s Doc n’ Roll Film Festival have been shortlisted for the Best Music Documentary 2017 prize, judged by a jury panel of Leonie Cooper (NME), Simone Marie (Primal Scream), Paul Sng (filmmaker), Tabitha Thorlu-Bangura (NTS Radio) and Campbell X (filmmaker).

Kicking the festival off in fine style on 2 November is the world premiere of A Winding Road: A Ramble with Richard Thompson at Picturehouse Central, featuring a Q&A with Thompson and director Edmond Deraedt.

World Premiere

A Winding Road: A Ramble with Richard Thompson + Q&A
Dir. Edmond Deraedt, US, 2016, 47mins
Director Q&A featuring Richard Thompson

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Named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the Top 20 guitarists of all time, Richard Thompson is also one of the world’s most critically acclaimed and prolific songwriters. Co-founding the groundbreaking group Fairport Convention as a teenager in the 1960s, Thompson and his mates virtually invented British folk rock. By the age of 21 he left Fairport to pursue a solo career. This tour film is a kaleidoscopic look at the hardworking and multifaceted musician through cascading visual and sonic experiences collected on the road with Thompson and his band in 2015.

UK Premiere

Don’t Break Down: A Film About Jawbreaker
Dir. Tim Irwin, 2017, US, 76mins

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In 2007, 11 years after one of America’s most influential punk bands called it quits, Jawbreaker’s Blake Schwarzenbach, Chris Bauermeister and Adam Pfahler reconnected in a San Francisco recording studio to revisit their albums, reminisce and even perform together. Follow the band as they retell their rags-to-riches-to-rags story rife with inner band turmoil, health issues and the fallout of signing to a major label. Featuring interviews with Billy Joe Armstrong, Steve Albini, Jessica Hopper, Graham Elliot, Chris Shifflet, Josh Caterer and more.

World Premiere

Manchester Keeps On Dancing – Co Presented by DJ Mag
Dir. Javi Senz, 2017, UK, 90mins
Q&A – (Guests TBC)

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A new feature film that documents – in exceptional detail – the arrival of House music in Manchester from Chicago in the 1980s, through to the Acid House explosion of 1988 and a further 30 years of its phenomenal impact. It is a truly remarkable social study of a subculture that helped put Manchester on the worldwide music map. Digging deeper than the story of the famed Haçienda club, this documentary presents archive footage that has never been seen on film, alongside in-depth interviews with local and international DJs, to explore how House music arrived in the city and take viewers on a journey through its memorable stories. The timeline begins pre-Haçienda and features contributions from each ensuing decade’s most respected DJs, producers, promoters and social commentators including Greg Wilson, Mike Pickering, Dave Haslam, Andrew Weatherall, Marshal Jefferson, Carl Craig, Eats Everything, Krysko, Laurent Garnier, Todd Terry, Seth Troxler and many more.

World Premiere
+ Q&A

Suburban Steps to Rockland: The Story of The Ealing Club
Dir. Giorgio Guernier, 2017, UK, 89mins
Director Q&A featuring Dick Taylor (Pretty Things)

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Inspired by American touring blues acts such as Muddy Waters and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and with the help of a 19-year-old student from Tehran, in 1962 guitarist Alexis Korner and harmonica player Cyril Davies opened the Ealing Club, London’s (and Britain’s) first rhythm and blues venue. Soon young music fans from all over the country began attending Alexis and Cyril’s shows and sit in during their sets. The list of those who learned the blues at the Ealing Club includes Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Paul Jones, Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Dick Taylor, Jeff Beck and Eric Burdon, to name just a few.
The Ealing Club, “the cradle of British rock” (MOJO magazine), was a dingy and smoky concrete-floored basement barely mentioned in music history books and it would last only three years. However, its pivotal role in fostering a golden generation of classic rock musicians and kick-starting the British blues movement remains undeniable.

World Premiere

Beneath The Bassline + Q&A
Dir. Nick Wells, 2017, UK, 103mins
Director Q&A

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Beneath The Bassline brings together some of the finest bass players on the planet. Via visits to Fodera Guitars in Brooklyn, Sadowsky Guitars in Long Island City and Aguilar Amplification in Manhattan’s SoHo district, and featuring interviews with Will Lee, Richard Bona, Billy Sheehan, Bootsy Collins, Duff McKagan, Felix Pastorius, Mark King, Lee Sklar, John Patitucci, Larry Graham, Marcus Miller, Robert Trujillo, Nathan East, Stanley Clarke and many others, the film is packed with never-before-told stories and anecdotes as well as behind-the-scenes footage and impromptu jam sessions. “This is a film for anyone who loves the bass guitar,” says director Nick Wells. “We wanted to get to grips with what really makes these guys tick, find out how they evolved their respective sounds and styles, and get a glimpse into their world in a way that I don’t think any other documentary has.”

UK Premiere

Bill Frisell: A Portrait + Q&A
Dir. Emma Franz, Canada, 2017, 116mins
Director Q&A

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A character portrait of anti-archetype guitar hero Bill Frisell, this nuanced film traces the ideas and processes that shaped his music and provides rare insight into the mind and personality of one of the significant musicians of recent decades. Full of live music, revealing stories and intimate access to the normally reclusive Frisell, his collaborations are followed from development to fruition, including the last-ever performance of the Paul Motian Trio with Frisell and Joe Lovano. The film also features contributions from Bonnie Raitt, Hal Willner, Paul Simon, Nels Cline, Joey Baron, Jim Hall, Jason Moran, Mike Gibbs, John Zorn, Jack DeJohnette, Ron Carter and John Abercrombie.

Frisell is widely credited with being one of the greatest influences on the changing palette of guitar in the past few decades. A masterful musician, prolific composer and bandleader, a Grammy Award winner and Downbeat Guitarist of the Year for 10 consecutive years, he is the recipient of accolades from critics and fans from all corners of the globe. In a career that spanning hundreds of albums, with 45 long-players in his own name, Frisell has combined sonic mastery with jazz, country, folk, rock, blues, pop and avant-garde, while maintaining a uniquely identifiable sound.
“Bill Frisell plays the guitar like Miles Davis played the trumpet: in the hands of such radical thinkers, their instruments simply become different animals.” – The New Yorker

London Premiere

The Doom Doc + Q&A
Dir. Connor Matheson, UK, 2017, 90mins
Director and producer Q&A, featuring Jon Davis (Conan)

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Made on a crowdfunded shoestring budget, The Doom Doc is a visceral, immersive dive into the hazy black hole that lies at one extreme of the musical spectrum. Doom, whose foundations were laid on Black Sabbath’s debut album in 1970, is a genre of heavy metal that is all about crushing riffs played at sluggish tempos through huge amps. It has experienced a resurgence in popularity of late and in this documentary, Sheffield filmmaker Connor Matheson follows the story of Holy Spider Promotions, a DIY collective in his city who battle to put on doom gigs, vying for space and attention on behalf of an extreme and polarising form of music. Using the lens of doom, Matheson explores issues such as drug use, mental health and gentrification, and speaks with scene luminaries including Bill Ward, Black Sabbath’s original drummer, and members of Conan, Crowbar and Primitive Man.

19:00 WEDNESDAY 8 NOVEMBER – 100 CLUB, Oxford Street
International Premiere
+ Live Gig: Årabrot Speciale performance, featuring John Doran

Cocks and Crosses: The Music that Wouldn’t Die (Årabrot)
Dir. André Løyning, 2017, Norway, 60mins
Director Q&A featuring frontman Kjetil Nernes and Karin Park, hosted by John Doran

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What do you do when you’re told that you’re going to die? Årabrot’s Kjetil Nernes went on tour and into the studio. Music helped him through his illness, and out of it again. This documentary follows him through two years of struggle and success.

Årabrot is a two-headed monster. The band has toured Norway, Europe and the States extensively for years. They have released seven critically acclaimed albums and won Norwegian Grammy for Best Metal Album in 2012. Their most recent full-length release, The Gospel was voted Album Of The Year 2016 by influential music site The Quietus.

Årabrot the rock band is without a doubt a well-known and established name, but another important component of the band – the arty and more experimental Årabrot Speciale – often goes unrecognised.

Årabrot Speciale is Årabrot outside of the conventional structures of a basic rock’n’roll band. Årabrot Speciale is the elemental force. Dark and hypnotizing. Atmospheric. It could be the soundtrack to a perfect suicide. Crushing, ugly, but at the same time majestic and surprisingly beautiful. The Årabrot Speciale main core consists of Årabrot frontman Kjetil Nernes on vocals, guitars and electronics and pop artist Karin Park on vocals, flute and synths. This 100 Club performance in London features spoken word from John Doran.

UK Premiere

Revolution of Sound: Tangerine Dream
Dir. Margarete Kreuzer, 2017, Germany, 90mins

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“Tangerine Dream is science fiction!” declared band leader Edgar Froese, who died in January 2015 aged 70. For nearly 50 years he and his band Tangerine Dream explored sound and its effect on our emotions. Examining the work and legacy of these electronic music pioneers, this film focuses on young Berlin musicians who were as inspired by the space age of the 1960s, with its rocket launchings and visions of the future, as they were by their own heartbeats on which Froese based some of his compositions. Armed with the Moog and other early synthesisers, Froese and his bandmates revolutionised popular music. His explorations took him into the worlds of classical, new music and film soundtracks, choosing to evoke moods rather than create clearly structured songs. Directors such as Michael Mann and Paul Brickman discuss intensive collaborations with Froese that produced some of the most unusual soundtracks of the 1980s, in films such as Risky Business and Near Dark. This fascinating blend of amateur footage, interviews with band members, relatives, friends and colleagues such as Jean-Michel Jarre paints a comprehensive portrait of an artistic pioneer.

London Premiere

Joe Cocker: Mad Dog with Soul + Q&A
Dir. John Edgington, US, 2017, 90mins
Director Q&A (Guests TBC)

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This feature-length documentary captures the turbulent life and unique talent of Joe Cocker, who died of cancer at 70 in 2014. Rock music’s most incendiary white soul singer, he had a voice that could rage, bellow, rasp, screech, or – if circumstances demanded – sound unexpectedly yearning and vulnerable, and he could take any song and make it his own.

A gas fitter from the hard-drinking back streets of Sheffield, in the early 1960s Cocker sang in the city’s pubs in the style of his hero Ray Charles. He was catapulted to stardom at Woodstock in 1969 with his legendary performance of The Beatles’ “A Little Help from My Friends”, and his 1970 “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” tour of America is seen as a milestone in rock history. But as his stardom grew, pressures mounted. In the 1970s, his inner demons nearly killed him.

His personal battles were sometimes played out in plain sight. At a key comeback gig after going off-radar, songwriting legend Jimmy Webb recalls, a brandy bottle-wielding Cocker sabotaged his own performance. Yet whenever it seemed he had hit rock bottom, he conjured up more of what singer Rita Coolidge called his “god-given talent”. With chart hits in the 1980s, never-ending tours in the 1990s and a triumphant performance at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert in 2002, Cocker’s was one of the great comeback stories in rock history.

UK Premiere

Play Your Gender + Q&A
Dir. Stephanie Clattenburg, Canada, 2017, 80mins
Q&A (guests TBC)

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Just 5% of music producers are women, even though many of the most bankable pop stars are female. In the entire history of the Grammys, only six women have been nominated for the Producer of the Year award, and no woman has ever won. In Play Your Gender, Juno Award-winning producer Kinnie Starr embarks on a quest to find out why this disparity exists by speaking to music industry stars and veterans about the realities of being a woman in the recording studio. The documentary features interviews with Sara Quinn of Tegan & Sara, Melissa Auf der Maur of Smashing Pumpkins and Hole, Patty Schemel of Hole, Chantal Kreviazuk, and many more of the music industry’s most talented women.

18:30 FRIDAY 10 NOVEMBER – The ICA Cinema
UK Premiere


The Allins + Q&A
Dir. Sami Saif, 2017, Denmark, 76mins
Q&A (guests TBC)

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The most outrageous singer in rock’n’roll history, the punk provocateur GG Allin was infamous for defecating on stage, fighting and having sex with the audience. He died in 1993, aged 37. More than two decades on, his mother Arleta and brother Merle are both trying to keep his memory alive and come to terms with his death. Arleta tackles her grief by having her son’s gravestone removed from the New Hampshire cemetery where he is buried, tired of watching fans pay tribute to GG by vandalising his grave. That is not the son she wants to remember: she wants to remember GG, the man – a loving son and brother. Merle, in contrast, keeps himself and the rock’n’roll myth going by selling merchandise and by breathing life into the siblings’ joint band, the Murder Junkies. Focusing on a mother-son duo struggling with the ghosts of their past, The Allins paints a vivid portrait of an extraordinary family honouring a lost loved one in their own way. Brave, bold and unfiltered, the film is a testament to the human need to create our own versions of the past to move towards a brighter future.

UK Premiere

Conny Plank: The Potential of Noise + Q&A
Dirs. Reto Caduff/Stephan Plank, 2017, Germany, 83mins
Q&A (guests TBC)

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Konrad “Conny” Plank (1940-1987) was one of the most innovative sound designers and music producers of his era: the recordings he made at his storied studio in Wolperath outside Cologne revolutionised the music world. A pioneer of Krautrock and a trailblazer of electronic pop music, he worked with artists such as NEU!, Brian Eno, David Bowie, Ultravox and Eurythmics; even now they stress the influence he had on their music.

When Conny died at the age of 47, his son Stephan was only 13. Twenty-five years later, Stephan went in search of the man who as a boy he had often seen only behind his mixing console (which now resides at Studio 7 in Tottenham Hale). Simultaneously, it became the search for his father’s artistic legacy. He met up with Conny’s old friends and companions: David A. Stewart, Devo, Gianna Nannini, Ultravox, DAF, Michael Rother, Daniel Miller, Karl Hyde and many more.

Never before seen archive film is here interspersed with personal interviews in which musicians provide insight into Conny’s meticulous and highly sensitive manner of working. This moving portrait of a legendary producer offers a fascinating journey through the history international pop music of the 1970s and 80s.

London Premiere

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World
Dir. Catherine Bainbridge, Canada, 2017, 102mins

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The fascinating story of a profound, essential and previously unseen chapter in the history of American music: the Indigenous influence. Featuring music icons Link Wray, Jimi Hendrix, George Clinton, Iggy Pop, Wayne Kramer (MC5), Charley Patton, Mildred Bailey, Jesse Ed Davis, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Robbie Robertson, Randy Castillo and others, Rumble shows how these talented Native musicians helped shape the soundtracks of our lives.

Rumble boasts a long list of artists, historians, family members and music experts participating in the film, including Buddy Guy, Steven Van Zandt, Tony Bennett, Taj Mahal, Cyril Neville, Ivan Neville, Martin Scorsese, Quincy Jones, John Trudell, David Fricke of Rolling Stone, Steven Tyler, Taboo, Derek Trucks, Corey Harris, Guy Davis, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Monk Boudreaux, Jackson Browne, Martha Redbone, Joy Harjo, Marky Ramone, Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Pura Fé (Ulali), Dan Auerbach, Phil Soussan (Ozzy Osbourne), Matt Sorum (Guns ‘N’ Roses), Mike Inez (Alice in Chains), Robert Trujillo (Metallica), Taboo (Black Eyed Peas), Slash (Guns ‘N’ Roses), Charlie Sexton (Bob Dylan), Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), Pat Vegas (Redbone), Robbie Robertson, Buffy Sainte-Marie and many others.

UK Premiere

Pure Love: The Voice of Ella Fitzgerald
Dir. Katja Duregger, 2017, Germany, 52mins

Focusing on the phenomenon of her extraordinary voice, this film pays tribute to The First Lady of Song – Ella Fitzgerald – on what would have been her 100th birthday on 25 April 2017. Fitzgerald’s voice is a phenomenon and unrivalled to this day. With absolute pitch and perfect intonation, her voice spanned three octaves, her phrasing seemed effortless, and the odd moments in her nearly 60-year career when she sang off-key were few and far between. There is almost no style of music in which she did not excel and her numerous – now legendary – recordings of the Great American Songbook with pieces by US composers such as George and Ira Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Cole Porter and Duke Ellington remained a benchmark for the interpretation of those songs for generations of singers. Ira Gershwin is rumoured to have said: “I didn’t realise how good our songs were until Ella sang them.” Duregger unravels the secret of Fitzgerald’s voice via insights from singers Dianne Reeves and Dee Dee Bridgewater, jazz drummer and producer Terri Lyne Carrington, jazz violinist Regina Carter, author Tad Hershorn and the eminent jazz critic Will Friedwald, among others. They describe the impact her voice had and continues to have on their lives.


Chasin’ Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary
Dir. John Scheinfeld, US, 2017, 99mins

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The definitive documentary film about an outside-the-box thinker with extraordinary talent whose boundary-shattering music continues to influence and inspire people around the world. This smart, passionate, thought-provoking and uplifting documentary is not just for jazz heads, but for anyone who appreciates the power of music to entertain, inspire and transform.

Trane was an enigmatic figure whose massive influence on generations of artists has grown even stronger since his untimely death at the age of 40. Scheinfeld’s film features great insights from notable fans, including commentary from Denzel Washington, Carlos Santana, Common, Cornell West, and many others.

European Premiere

Straight Into A Storm – Deer Tick
Dir. William Miller, 2016, US, 110’

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Straight Into A Storm centres around Deer Tick’s 2015 10th anniversary run in New York City. It is a portrait of a hard-rocking band known for their substance-fuelled live performances on their evolutionary journey to become one of the greatest cult rock bands of our time.
Anchored by a fan-chosen setlist and New Year’s Eve performance, the film weaves in and out of time over the past 10 years, utilising never before seen archive footage from their booze-drenched early days to the successful touring/recording band they are now – and everything in between.

UK Premiere

Hello Hello Hello : Lee Ranaldo : Electric Trim
Dir. Fred Riedel, 2017, US, 76mins

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Hello Hello Hello is a story for contemporary artists and audiences: Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth) collaborates with Catalan producer/composer Raül Refree, across a year and 3,842 miles, with a little help from their friends. Novelist Jonathan Lethem (Motherless Brooklyn, The Fortress of Solitude) plays writer/lyricist/muse to Ranaldo’s artist/composer wanderings, across soundscapes created alongside friends and musical guest artists Nels Cline (Wilco), Sharon Van Etten, Alan Licht, Kid Millions, and Steve Shelley (formerly of Sonic Youth). What happens next is akin to the Surrealists’ “exquisite corpse”: interdependent creations whose combinations make for a strange and powerful journey that pushes the boundaries of the current state of music-making, simultaneously enmeshed and liberated by technology. Whatever the century, making music is a process and here we experience the unusually intimate and personal creative process of a bold new work.

UK Premiere


Late Blossom Blues + Q&A
Dir. Wolfgang Pfoser-Almer, Austria/US, 2017, 90mins
Director Q&A

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Born in 1932 in rural segregated Mississippi, blues and gospel singer Leo “Bud” Welch was a poor man all his life, working hard in the cotton fields and the woods. But 2013, after decades of missed opportunities and gigs in local juke joints and churches, a Gulf War veteran management rookie teams up with him to take the blues world by storm.

Documenting the most exciting times in the life of one of the last real bluesmen, Late Blossom Blues is a film of historic dimension for music lovers: a moving account of a hard-working man, who, despite countless adversities, never wavered from his passion and waited more than 70 years to live his dream.

European Premiere


Dir. Rene Perez, 2017, US, 96mins

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After taking a DNA test, Latin America’s most acclaimed artist, Rene Perez, aka Residente, embarks on a global odyssey to trace the footsteps of his ancestors and record his latest album. This self-directed documentary reveals how he grew from struggling art student into the founder of the region’s most influential rap group, Calle 13, and how he became one of Latin America’s most outspoken critics of injustice and corruption. We learn why he left Calle 13 at the peak of its success and then undertook a journey through Siberia, the Caucasus, China and West Africa, after mapping out his DNA. Music becomes the film’s primary focus, framing each destination and informing every conversation.

UK Premiere

Syl Johnson: Any Way The Wind Blows + Q&A
Dir Rob Hatch-Miller, 2015, US, 84mins

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Velvet-voiced soul singer Syl Johnson struggled for decades before leaving the music business in the 1980s to open a Chicago fried-fish chain. Since then, he’s become one of the most-sampled artists in hip-hop. The list of artists who’ve used his 1967 song “Different Strokes” includes Run-DMC, NWA, Public Enemy, the Wu-Tang Clan, the Beastie Boys, Kid Rock, Michael Jackson, Jay Z and Kanye West. With a vibrant soundtrack and an original score by Yo La Tengo, this buoyant documentary – featuring interviews with RZA (the Wu-Tang Clan), Prince Paul (De La Soul), Peanut Butter Wolf (Stones Throw Records), Jazzy Jay (Afrika Bambaataa’s Soulsonic Force) – celebrates one man who can’t stop the music.

UK Premiere      

DEATH by MetaL
Dir. Felipe Belalcazar, 2016, Canada, 109mins

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DEATH were an American death metal band founded in 1983 by guitarist and vocalist Chuck Schuldiner. They were one of the most influential groups in heavy metal and a pioneering force in their genre. Their debut album Scream Bloody Gore is widely regarded as the first death metal record, while Schuldiner, the band’s driving force, is acknowledged as the originator of extreme metal. DEATH’s burning speed and ferocity was only matched by their leader’s unbending determination to bash out the most boundary-crushing interpretation of heavy metal. Presenting exclusive interviews and archive footage, this epic documentary brings the story of Schuldiner and his work and legacy to film for the first time.

17:30 – SUNDAY 19 NOVEMBER – Hackney Picturehouse
London Premiere

L7: Pretend We’re Dead
Dir. Sarah Price, 2016, US, 87mins

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Capturing the fierce, feminist pioneers of American grunge punk, L7: Pretend We’re Dead is an engrossing history told from the perspective of band, true insiders who brought their signature blend of grunge punk to the masses. Culled from over 100 hours of vintage home movies taken by the band, never-before-seen performance footage and candid interviews, it takes viewers on an all-access journey into the 1990’s grunge movement that took the world by storm. Charged with lyrics that had political bite and humour that proved irresistible to the disenfranchised, the marginalised, and the punk, L7 helped define grunge as the genre of a generation.
Chronicling the early days of the band’s formation in 1985 to their height as the “queens of grunge”, this is a rollercoaster ride through L7’s triumphs and failures – a classic tale of rags to riches to rags. Featuring exclusive interviews with Exene Cervenka (X), Krist Novoselic (Nirvana), Shirley Manson (Garbage), Louise Post (Veruca Salt), Joan Jett and many more.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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