Doc’n Roll made November a month to remember for fans of music and film in the capital, via 18 days of the best in music documentaries. This year, the UK's music documentary festival served up 35 screenings including 31 world, European, UK and London premieres and nine sell-out houses; and appearances by 27 directors and nearly a dozen acts at post-screening Q&As, live in-cinema performances and Doc’n Roll’s legendary after-parties.
Foals to PJ Harvey; from grime to futurist electro-folk
The sixth annual London event brought a dizzying variety of music and music-makers to the big screen. Viewers were treated to feature-length looks at grime, drum’n’bass and hip hop (via hip hop fashion); behind-the-scenes looks at the worlds of jazz, soul, disco, Cuban fusion, futurist electronic-folk, feminist punk, industrial post-punk and 90s alt-rock; portraits of label founders, rock photographers, concert promoters and Manchester-loving New York super-fans; a London band captured at the height of its live power and the conflict-zone odysseys of a boundary-pushing West Country icon; gripping tales of complex, charismatic music-makers whose work defined eras from Woodstock to Krautrock, and from Zambian rock to Canadian folk-rock and New Zealand’s post-punk scene; and along the way, countless deeply human stories of love and loss, politics and passion, hope and mortality.
First-time directors feted, musical outliers celebrated
This year’s line-up focused on musical outliers and included feature-length films by 18 first-time directors, notes Doc'n Roll founder Colm Forde, and it's proof of the breadth and range of high-quality documentaries being made about music.
“We’re impressed and inspired by just how many great independent docs are being made about scenes, sounds and the people who create them. The fact that Doc’n Roll London 2019 was our biggest and best festival yet shows filmgoers of all ages and backgrounds are keen to see these films as they were meant to be seen, live and loud on the big screen,” he said.
Tribute to hip hop style claims Doc'n Roll Jury Prize
For the fourth year in a row, an all-star jury of music and film lovers weighed up a shortlist of six films screened during the festival to award the Doc’n Roll Jury Prize for Documentary of the Year. Taking home the honours in 2019 was The Remix: Hip Hop x Fashion, which screened on the festival’s closing day. The work of US-based directors Farah X and Lisa Cortes, it focuses on the cultural interplay and creative connections between two groups of innovative women: recording artists such as Mary J Blige, Missy Elliott and Lil’ Kim, and fashion designers including Misa Hylton and April Walker.
Two members of the 2019 Doc'n Roll jury were outspoken in their praise for The Remix. Jen Long pronounced it "a brilliant film. It's an engaging, thought-provoking, educating, riveting ride that's put together perfectly. I enjoyed every minute."
Sophie K said: "This film was head and shoulders above the rest. The director prioritised narrative above all else, which meant that you are gripped from start to finish. I didn’t even know I was interested in hip hop fashion! It was fantastically put together, and was able to appeal to a wide variety of audiences."
Coalition of the willing: volunteers and venues, fans and funders
Doc’n Roll London 2019 wouldn't have been possible, says programmer Vanessa Lobon Garcia, without a small army of contributors, volunteers, supporters and funders. “Once again this year, we’re incredibly proud of all the hard work by our tireless core team, our dedicated and insightful jury, and the independent film and music fanatics who put in long hours as volunteers before and during the festival.”
She adds: “We’re hugely grateful for the ongoing support shown to Doc’n Roll by the BFI, which uses funds from the National Lottery to grow audience appetite and enjoyment for a wide range of independent British and international films.
"We also want to thank the staff and programmers of the nine cinemas and venues who hosted our uniquely city-wide, multi-venue festival this year; the journalists and music experts who hosted our Q&As; the media outlets, bloggers and social media community who’ve shown us so much love; Soho Radio for letting us stage a Doc’n Roll takeover during the festival; and, of course, everyone in the audience who helped us celebrate all this fantastic filmmaking.”
Directors and artists join the party
Among the directors appearing at Doc’n Roll 2019 screenings and parties were Seamus Murphy, Javi Senz, AJ Eaton, Gina Birch, Posy Dixon, Marco Porsia, Olivia Emes, Martha Kehoe and Joan Tosoni, Simon David, Rob Curry, Pete Costigan, Alfred George Bailey, Isaac Reeder, Toby L, Victorious DeCosta, Gio Arlotta, Marguerite de Bourgoing, Ivan Castell, Jacob Frossen, James Cullingham, Stuart Swezey, Jessica Kelly, Amy Jean Carlsson, Jack Webber and Tommaso Di Paola, and Farah X. Artists in attendance at screenings, on Q&A panels and on the decks at Doc'n Roll after-parties included Bobby Gillespie, Beverly Glenn-Copeland, Foals, Damian O'Neill, John Morales, Aurora Marietta Veulens, Nina, 80s Stallone, Gunship, Ogre and Mark Stewart.
Doc'n Roll on tour: 14 cities in 2020
Doc’n Roll is now gearing up for a UK-wide tour in the new year, when it’ll be taking the best of its current programming to 14 cities: Bristol, Brighton, Nottingham, Hull, Liverpool, Manchester, Exeter, Newcastle, Totnes, Derby, Reading, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee. The first regional festivals run from 26 to 29 March in Brighton, Nottingham and Liverpool, with Doc’n Roll Scotland taking place from 7 to 17 May.
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