2019 Sundance Docs in Focus: MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Guy Le Querrec

MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL
Stanley Nelson presents an expansive portrait of the life and work of the jazz pioneer.

Festival Section:
Documentary Premieres

Sundance Program Description:

Using words from Miles Davis’s autobiography, MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL offers an incisive insight into our understanding of the legendary musician.

Newly released archival material, alongside interviews with pre-eminent historians and personal friends like Quincy Jones, illustrate a man of intensity and devotion to his craft. Despite the indignities of America during the time of segregation, nothing was going to stop Davis from realizing his dream: to create a new form of musical expression. Davis worked like a physicist with his collaborators to push musical experimentation and widen the tones and lyricism of jazz – the effects of which are felt to this day.

As the film delves into his past loves, personal relationships, and addictions, a clearer portrait of Davis the man emerges. Davis is fearless and engaging throughout, and his intellectual fervor is only tempered by his insecurities. Director Stanley Nelson’s epic biopic collects the strands of a creative life and weaves them together for us to understand one of the great modern American artists like never before.

Some Background:
Director/Producer:

Producer:

Associate Producer:

  • Lauren Wimbush

    Wimbush was a production intern at Firelight on THE BLACK PANTHERS. She is the editorial director of media group Black, Brown, and Digital.

Supervising Producers:

  • Peter Worsley

    Worsley is the managing director of London-based Eagle Rock Entertainment, whose documentary projects have a particular focus on music.

  • Junko Tsunashima
    Past Sundance docs:

    MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE (2016)
    PATTI SMITH: DREAM OF A LIFE (2008)

    The Emmy-winning Tsunashima is supervising producer for American Masters.

Series Producer:

  • Julie Sacks
    Past Sundance docs:

    MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE
    TROUBADOURS (2011)
    SOUND AND FURY (2000)
    THE BATTLE OVER CITIZEN KANE (1996)

    Sacks is the Emmy-winning series producer for American Masters.

Executive Producers:

  • Terry Shand

    Shand is the chairman/CEO of Eagle Rock Entertainment.

  • Geoff Kempin

    Kempin is the co-founder and director of the board of Eagle Rock Entertainment.

  • Michael Kantor
    Past Sundance docs:

    MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE
    NORMAN LEAR: JUST ANOTHER VERSION OF YOU (2016)

    American Masters’ Kantor also executive produced fellow 2019 Sundance Documentary Premieres TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM and WORDS FROM A BEAR. Before coming to the PBS series, he was an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning director whose work has appeared on PBS, HBO, and Bravo.

Editor:

  • Lewis Erskine
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE BLACK PANTHERS
    (T)ERROR (2015)
    CESAR’S LAST FAST (2014)
    FREEDOM RIDERS
    THE FIGHT (2004)
    THE MURDER OF EMMETT TILL
    MARCUS GARVEY: LOOK FOR ME IN THE WHIRLWIND
    THE BLACK PRESS: SOLDIERS WITHOUT SWORDS

    Erskine is also a supervising editor for fellow 2019 Sundance doc ALWAYS IN SEASON, in the US Documentary Competition.

Associate Editor:

  • Natasha Mottola
    Past Sundance docs:

    FREEDOM SUMMER

Assistant Editor:

  • Yusuf Kapadia

    This marks the first feature project and first Sundance credit for Kapadia. He is a 2019 Sundance Ignite fellow.

Why You Should Watch:
Nelson gives the visionary musician his due in this comprehensive biography. Full of rich archival recordings, the project is a must-see for jazz fans.

More Info:
Sundance’s Meet the Artist Profile

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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

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