2016 Sundance Docs in Focus: AMERICAN EPIC

american epicMy Sundance doc profiles move on to this year’s Special Events, one-off presentations of upcoming episodic and other unique programming: Bernard MacMahon’s AMERICAN EPIC, a preview of a multi-part PBS docuseries and feature doc exploring the roots of American music.

Festival Section:
Special Events

Sundance Program Description:

AMERICAN EPIC is a four-part series that takes us on a journey across time to the birth of modern music – a moment when the musical strands of a diverse nation were first collected and combined, thereby sparking a cultural revolution that forever transformed the future of music and the world.

Presented in partnership with Sundance Institute Film Music Program led by Peter Golub, this multidimensional evening is designed to celebrate a much-anticipated episodic work. Clips from the film include astonishing archival footage, rare historic recordings, and contributions from some of today’s great artists. There will be an extended onstage conversation with the creators including executive producers Robert Redford, T Bone Burnett, and Jack White. There will also be be a third component of live performances filling out this lineup, featuring The Avett Brothers and other special music guests. This not-to-be-missed night speaks volumes of the diverse and eclectic American creative spirit.

Some Background:
Director/Producer: Bernard MacMahon
This marks British director MacMahon’s first major filmmaking project. A co-founder of Lo-Max Films, he has previously directed music videos for artists such as Garbage and The Fall.

Producers: Allison McGourty, Duke Erikson, Bill Holderman, and Adam Block; Co-Producers: Jack McLean and Patricia Bischetti
McGourty is a co-founder of Lo-Max Films and Lo-Max Records, and beyond music, has a background with Reuters Television and the BBC.

Erikson is a co-founder of Garbage, and the band’s guitarist. He serves on the board of directors of Lo-Max.

Holderman is executive producer Robert Redford’s producing partner in Wildwood Enterprises. He is a Sundance alumnus as a producer and screenwriter for 2015’s A WALK IN THE WOODS.

Block is President of Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings. He previously executive produced Sundance alum UNDER AFRICAN SKIES (2012).

Bischetti’s producing background includes work for cable and television, including American Masters, Showtime, Starz, CNN, Discovery, and PBS, among others. She line produced Sundance alum THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SESAME STREET (2006).

Executive Producers: Robert Redford, T Bone Burnett, and Jack White; Co-Executive Producers: Stephen Segaller, Julie Anderson, and Anthony Wall
Sundance Film Festival founder Redford has most recently brought to the festival A WALK IN THE WOODS, which he produced and in which he starred, and DRUNKTOWN’S FINEST (2014), which he executive produced.

Burnett is an Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Globe award-winning musician and music producer, whose film soundtrack credits include Sundance alum DON’T COME KNOCKING (2006) as well as notable titles like CRAY HEART, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, and WALK THE LINE.

White is a Grammy-winning musician, best known as the lead singer and guitarist of The White Stripes.

Segaller is VP of programming at WNET. His colleague Anderson is executive producer, documentaries and development. Prior to this position, she was a supervising producer at HBO, and counts Sundance alum AMERICAN STANDOFF (2002), among her credits. She was also Oscar-nominated for producing the short film GOD IS THE BIGGER ELVIS.

BBC Arena’s Wall has previously executive produced Sundance alums I SHOT ANDY WARHOL (1996) and STONEWALL (1996).

Why You Should Watch:
MacMahon’s multi-part project profiles early American music that served as the precursors to rock and soul, while also placing a contemporary spin on the past in the form of modern-day artists making new recordings using 1920s machinery. A feast for music-lovers, the festival’s presentation offers a taste of the ambitious project, sneaks of which have previously screened at the BFI London, IDFA, and Hawaii fests, together with live music performances and discussions.

More Info:

For Sundance screening date and time, click the link in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2016 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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