7 items from 2017
Miles Davis. Dizzy Gillespie. Thelonius Monk. All these names, to jazz “heads,” aren’t just the leading contenders for the genre’s Mount Rushmore. They also happen to be just a few of the names most closely associated with the work of one of jazz’s greatest saxophonists, John Coltrane. An artist who would go on to be as defining a voice in jazz music as the genre, or music in general, has ever seen, Coltrane is also an artist less well known than Davis and less mythologized than someone like Monk. However, he’s the subject of a new, first of its kind, documentary that attempts to at once shine a light on his life off the stage while re-contextualizing his work on it.
- Joshua Brunsting
Midway through “Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary,” John Scheinfeld’s elegantly crafted and illuminating portrait of the singular jazz legend, John Densmore, of the Doors, talks about “Kind of Blue,” the touchstone 1959 Miles Davis album on which Coltrane was a pivotal player. Densmore calls it an album that transcends categories, one that even people who don’t “get” jazz can respond to. And he’s right. But let’s be honest: Even today, the people who feel like they don’t get jazz vastly outnumber those who do. “Chasing Trane” is a film that might have been made for them. Not because it’s “Coltrane for Dummies” — its grasp of Coltrane’s genius is direct and organic — but because it builds what John Coltrane did from the ground up, leading us through the mystery of his lyric celestial saxophone wail, and how it emerged from the complex person he was. »
- Owen Gleiberman
Keep up with the wild and wooly world of indie film acquisitions with our weekly Rundown of everything that’s been picked up around the globe. Check out last week’s Rundown here.
– Gunpowder & Sky Distribution has acquired the U.S. distribution rights to April Mullen’s “Below Her Mouth.” Shot entirely with a female crew, the film tells the story of an unexpected romance between two women whose passionate connection changes their lives forever.
The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival 2016, and it went on to screen at Festival du Nouveau Cinema, Mar Del Plata International Film Festival, and Goteborg Film Festival. It will also play at BFI Flare: London’s Lgbt festival in March.
Gunpowder & Sky Distribution will release the film on April 28, 2017, theatrically and across all major On Demand platforms, including iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV, Verizon FiOS, and DirecTV. »
- Kate Erbland
The film will hit theaters in April after premiering at the Telluride Film Festival in September, followed by showings at the Toronto International Film Festival, Idfa, and Doc NYC. It includes interviews with Wynton Marsalis, Sonny Rollins, Cornel West, President Bill Clinton, and Common, with Coltrane’s own words spoken by Denzel Washington.
The film is produced by Spencer Proffer, John Beug, Scott Pascucci, and Dave Harding. “Chasing Trane” will be released theatrically beginning in New York on April 14, with Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and additional cities to follow.
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Coltrane, an iconic saxophone player credited with revolutionizing jazz during the 1950s, died of liver cancer in 1967 at the age of 40. He did not do any television interviews during his lifetime and only gave a handful of radio interviews, »
- Dave McNary
Abramorama will handle the North American theatrical distribution of John Scheinfeld's documentary Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary. With interviews by Wynton Marsalis, President Bill Clinton, Sonny Rollins, Dr. Cornel West and Common, Trane played to good notices at Telluride, Toronto and Doc NYC, among other fests. Chasing Trane is produced by Spencer Proffer, John Beug, Scott Pascucci and Dave Harding, and is set for a theatrical release in New York on… »
[[tmz:video id="0_o3erp5aa"]] President Trump is sending America right back to the days of segregation ... according to renowned social activist Dr. Cornel West. The former Harvard and Princeton professor gave our guy at Lax his thoughts on Trump's policies -- particularly his stance on equal access to bathrooms for transgender students. Dr. West says he's not just worried about the prez, but also advisers like Steve Bannon. He had this warning too: Your perceived liberties are never a given. »
- TMZ Staff
Sabaah Folayan is a storyteller and activist based in Brooklyn, New York. She was a lead organizer for The Millions March, one of the largest marches for racial justice in New York history. “Whose Streets?” is her directorial debut.
“Whose Streets?” will premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on January 19. The film is co-directed by Damon Davis.
W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.
Sf: “Whose Streets?” is a documentary for the people. We honor those who put their lives and livelihoods on the line to fight for our constitutional rights.
When Michael Brown, Jr. was killed, the media focused on the most sensational aspects of the story. I didn’t see anyone digging deeper — trying to understand what this community was experiencing.
This film is the untold story. Our vantage point is the streets and homes of everyday St. Louisans.
W&H: What drew you to this story?
Sf: Police violence has been a reality for as long as I can remember, but Ferguson was a tipping point because of the images circulating on social media. Seeing these images, I was struck with a sense of powerlessness that I needed to overcome.
While the media focused on the most sensational parts of the situation, all I could think about was what Michael Brown Jr.’s family, friends, and community must be thinking and feeling. I wanted to tell that story.
W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?
Sf: I hope that this film can transform people’s ability to empathize with the Black experience. And I want it to remind people that we can never take democracy for granted.
W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?
Sf: Treating such a raw subject as a story — in the narrative sense — was extremely difficult. What happened to Michael Brown Jr. happens to people of color everyday across America.
As a storyteller, that awareness and the pain that comes with it is an important part of the process, but it can be hard to navigate.
W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.
Sf: Our film was supported by a group of incredible partners at non-profit film organizations as well as individual donors.
W&H: What does it mean for you to have your film play at Sundance?
Sf: I am humbled by this opportunity. It means that people who have gone unheard for a very long time will get to speak on a significant stage. It means that everyone who supported me personally and professionally can feel proud. And for me as an artist, it means I have the opportunity to share a moment with some of the most talented and influential media makers of our time.
W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?
Sf: Best advice: After two months in Ferguson, debating whether I had made the right choice in dropping my pre-med path to pursue film, I got the opportunity to speak with the renowned Dr. Cornel West. I told him my story and he took my hands in his and said, “Follow your heart.” It was so cliche! But it struck me that if he of all people couldn’t — or wouldn’t — guide me, then I’d have to chose my own path. I haven’t looked back since.
The worst advice I ever got was to be less ambitious.
W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?
Sf: Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself and learn on the job. Sometimes we have too much anxiety about being perfect and it stops us from taking risks.
Think about ways you can use the skills you already have to help you step out of your comfort zone.
W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.
Sf: Jehane Noujaim’s “The Square” was a big influence in creating “Whose Streets?” The film struck a balance between the personal and the political, delivering hefty information without losing an audience’s attention, or sacrificing emotional engagement.
I also appreciated the creative approach Noujaim took by showing the creation of a mural, which represented the story on a symbolic level even as it was unfolding in real time.
W&H: Have you seen opportunities for women filmmakers increase over the last year due to the increased attention paid to the issue? If someone asked you what you thought needed to be done to get women more opportunities to direct, what would be your answer?
Sf: While many admirable efforts are being made to increase opportunities for us to direct, there is still a long way to go. I think everyone will have to change the way they think and act in order for us to achieve gender equality in directing.
This means men, and gatekeepers in general, are going to have to be willing to take chances on promising women directors, and women are going to have to be bolder than ever in asking for the recognition they deserve.
Sundance 2017 Women Directors: Meet Sabaah Folayan — “Whose Streets?” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. »
- Laura Berger
7 items from 2017
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