Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.
Documentaries dominate this weekend’s new specialty offerings including Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl’s feature directorial debut Sound City, which premiered at the recent Sundance Film Festival. Grohl has partnered with various companies and groups for traditional and non-traditional rollouts for the film, which will also screen at SXSW in March. Sony Pictures Classics’ The Gatekeepers looks inside Israel’s intelligence agency, Shin Bet. The film gripped audiences at the Jerusalem International Film Festival where it debuted, followed by Telluride and the New York Film Festival last fall. And Hamptons International Film Festival premiere, Koch, will bow in New York — naturally. It’s about former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, who died early this morning in New York.
Director: Dror Moreh
Subjects: Ami Ayalon, Avraham Shalom, Avi Dichter, Yuval Diskin
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Realizing its potential, producer Philippa Kowarsky jumped on the Oscar-nominated The Gatekeepers from the outset. She was “taken by how candid” the former heads of Israel’s security agency, Shin Bet, were and “how their thoughts did not conform with the obvious.” Kowarsky added, “They were not predictable. It got me thinking. I was hoping we could get others to feel the same.” While the subjects seemed forthcoming, the project’s financial makeup posed challenges. It received a mixture of Israeli and European financing plus French-speaking Canadian television. Global partners, however, had agendas that did not always align with director Dror Moreh’s goals. “I think that one of Dror’s greatest achievements is his decision-making during the long editing process,” she added, suggesting Moreh didn’t let the financiers pressure him on the content.
Dave Grohl said today at the Sundance Film Festival that he almost put convicted serial killer Charles Manson in his music documentary Sound City, which premiered here over last week. “Manson recorded at Sound City and at one point we considered talking to him about music because how f***ing insane would that be,” the first-time director and Foo Fighters frontman said Tuesday. “But we decided not to because we didn’t want it to take over the beautiful message of the movie — but we considered it.”
Manson recorded demos in the late 1960s at the famed San Fernando Valley recording studio that’s the subject of Sound City. Found guilty of murdering Sharon Tate and others in 1970, Manson has been in prison ever since and has repeatedly been denied parole. “He was a musician before he got busted. He was friends with Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, and Dennis Wilson said ‘Here, go record some demos, I’ll pay for it, there’s this place called Sound City,” Grohl said this morning during an appearance with Prince Avalanche director David Gordon Green at Sundance’s Cinema Café. A number of bands have covered Manson’s songs over the years.
Sundance: Why Wait For The Fest? Gravitas Ventures Nabs VOD For Dave Grohl’s ‘Sound City,’ Shane Carruth Self Distribs ‘Upstream Color’
BREAKING: After the backers of the Ashton Kutcher-starrer jOBS made a service distribution deal with Open Road well before that film closes Sundance, two other festival films have worked out distribution in advance of their Park City screenings. Gravitas Ventures has acquired worldwide VOD to Sound City, the documentary by Nirvana and Foo Fighters rock god Dave Grohl that features other music legends who made their careers in America’s great unsung recording studio, Sound City. Neil Young, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Trent Reznor, Lars Ulrich, and Mick Fleetwood are among those onscreen. Following its Sundance debut, the film will bow worldwide via cable, satellite, telco, online, hotel, and airline VOD operators on February 1. It’ll also get some kind of theatrical release in North America through Variance Films.
Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl‘s directorial debut pulls in all the biggies in this documentary about Van Nuys, CA-based Sound City. The iconic recording studio hosted pretty much every significant rock act over its 40-plus years before it was shuttered for not keeping up with the high-tech times. …