Dir. Iván Castell, 2019, Spain & USA, 78 mins
Raise your hand if you haven't seen or heard of Stranger Things!
The phenomenon of this series responds to a nostalgia for the 80's that is relentlessly reflected today in film, television video games - and of course, also in music. Narrated by iconic director John Carpenter, The Rise Of The Synths is a journey back and forth in time, from to the roots of this scene to its impact on today's pop culture. So what is Synthwave? An irresistible blend of nostalgia and music; of creative processes and cultural references; of re-appropriation and legitimate creation. Is it a random revival, or an emerging cultural phenomenon? Synthwave not only harks back to the synthpop of the 1980s, but also to the glossy visual style of the era. The soundtracks and style of films, TV series and computer games such as Miami Vice, Lethal Weapon and Top Gun are a major inspiration to many of the musicians. Synthwave started in mid-2000 as an underground movement on MySpace where composers from around the globe shared their music. In recent years it has grown into a major scene with increasing mainstream visibility. Director John Carpenter (The Fog, Halloween) acts as the veteran narrator. He is one of synthwave's heroes, primarily because of the haunting DIY soundtracks he created for his own films, using synthesizers, obvs!
File next to - Fans of 1980's Pop Culture, Stranger Things, Baby Driver, Mandy, Drive, The Breakfast Club, Halloween, The Thing
Dir. A.J. Eaton, 2019, UK USA, 95 mins
A triumph at Sundance, this inspired collaboration between director A.J. Eaton and producer Cameron Crowe coaxes Crosby into unflinching candor as the singer-songwriter confronts mortality and assesses the damage of earlier days. At the same time, his redemptive journey back to music is universally inspiring and uplifting, bearing an emotional impact that transcends the rock documentary genre. As a troubled talent but uncompromising and principled spirit whose voice has been harmoniously woven into the fabric of pop culture and music royalty since the mid-1960s (first with the Byrds but most famously as a founding member of the supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), Crosby finally distinguishes himself as a masterful raconteur and unsparingly self-aware survivor. Taking viewers through soaring career highs, along with the chemical variety that led to ravaging addictions and serious prison time, this film explodes myths and sheds profound new light on all the music, politics, and personalities that crossed his incredible — and ongoing — path. Only Crowe and Eaton could have composed a cinematic portrait so intimate and unforgettable.
File next to - Fans of 1960's counterculture, Folk Rock, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Crosby Stills & Nash, Joni Mitchell
Dir. Peter Costigan, 2019, Canada, 111 min
From the days of illegal raves to the dark club sounds of Optical and Ed Rush, The Rest Is History is a look back at the early years of Jungle and Drum & Bass music, how it developed, and the culture that surrounded it. With interviews from some of the original pioneers (Micky Finn, Ray Keith, Dillinja, Ragga Twins, Paul Ibiza, G.Q,) the viewers get an intimate look into the creation of this beloved underground art form and its continued legacy like never before.
File next to - Fans of 1990's Rave counterculture, Dub-Step, Goldie, Jungle, Bass & Soundsystem culture
Dir. Nicolas Jack Davies, 2018, UK, 85 min
Rudeboy chronicles the love affair between Jamaican and British youth culture through the prism of Trojan Records, one of the most iconic labels in the history of black music. Combining compelling dramatisations of key chapters in the story with archive and interview footage, it tells the story of the label, placing it at the heart of a cultural revolution that unfolded on the council estates and dancefloors of late 60s and early 70s Britain, immigration and innovation transforming popular music and culture. The film's cast of legendary artists, including Lee “Scratch” Perry, Toots Hibbert, Ken Boothe, Neville Staple, Marcia Griffiths, Dave Barker, Dandy Livingstone, Lloyd Coxsone, Pauline Black, Derrick Morgan and more, bring the sounds, stars and stories to life. When Rudeboy won Doc'n Roll's Best Music Documentary honours in 2018, jury member Geoff Travis, founder of Rough Trade Records remarked that the film "was an education and also a history lesson for me, but most of all it is just a really vibrant movie. It makes you really realise why you love music in the first place."
File next to - Fans of 60s and 70s counterculture, Jamaican sound, Ska, Rock Steady, Reggae, Lee "Scratch" Perry
Dir. Victorious DeCosta, 2018, USA, 95 mins
A befitting and timely tribute, this film honours the life and legacy of Weldon Irvine. An artist of moderate success yet monumental influence, he was a pioneer of jazz-funk fusion and Nina Simone's band leader. A major contributor to the 1970s Black Arts Movement, Irvine wrote over 500 songs and over 50 theatre plays, and was also integral to the evolution of hip hop: hear Mos Def and Q-Tip chart his influence on the genre from its inception through its golden era of consciousness and heavy jazz-laden sampling. Irvine's bountiful and socio-culturally evocative work in music and theatre was central to the Black Arts Movement of the 1970s; and his dedicated mentorship sparked a movement in his long-time residence of Jamaica/St. Albans, Queens, helping develop some of the most well-known figures in jazz today.
File next to - fans of 70s US counterculture and the Black Arts Movement, the New York art scene, hip hop, jazz, Nina Simone, Mos Def, Q-Tip, jazz-funk, musical pioneers
Dir. Jacob Frössén, 2019, Sweden, 74 min
After a failed relationship with a Swedish girl in the summer of 1971, Klaus Dinger returns home to Düsseldorf. Here he finds solace in the drums and lives out his longing to one day regain his lost love. He channels his inability to give up on love into repetitive, hypnotic beats and lets his heartache pulse out writing and performing with bands like NEU! and La Düsseldorf. This unique beat, dubbed "motorism", quickly infected the music world. Through archival material and personal interviews with musicians like Iggy Pop, Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream), Gudrun Gut, Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth), Wolfgang Flür (Kraftwerk) and Stephen Morris (Joy Division/New Order), filmmaker Jacob Frössén follows Dinger's fascinating story and his prodigious musical output.
File next to - Fans of the 70s alternative rock scene, romance, Krautrock, Kraftwerk, Kim Gordon, Iggy Pop, percussion