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Updated by Tarik Moody on Oct 03, 2015
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20 Music Documentaries You Must See In 2015

A list of music documentaries that you can see in 2015!

KEEP ON KEEPIN' ON (2015)

Shot over the course of five years by first time filmmaker Al Hicks, KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON depicts a 23-­year­-old, blind piano prodigy, Justin Kauflin, and music legend and teacher Clark Terry, 89. After a life spent working with and teaching the most totemic figures in jazz history, Terry continues to attract and cultivate budding talents.

KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON highlights Terry’s friendship with the preternaturally gifted Justin Kauflin, who suffers from ebilitating stage fright. Not long after Kauflin is invited to compete in an elite Jazz competition, Terry’s health takes a turn for the worse. As the clock ticks, we see two friends confront the toughest challenges of their lives.

Terry, now 93, was Quincy Jones’ first teacher, and mentor to Miles Davis. He is among the few performers ever to have played in both Count Basie’s and Duke Ellington’s bands. In the ‘60s Terry broke the color barrier as the first African-American staff musician at NBC – on The Tonight Show.

"808" (2015)

http://www.808themovie.com/

The Roland TR-808 is one of the most distinct, influential and beloved instruments of the early Eighties, with the electronic rhythm composer used by everyone from Talking Heads and Afrika Bambaataa to Marvin Gaye and the Beastie Boys. Even Kanye West devoted an album title to the instrument's unmistakable sound.

808 is a documentary film that will tell the inspiring story of the Roland TR808, from the creation of Planet Rock which established it as a dynamic modern instrument, to how it defined hip hop and modern dance culture, through to its continued use today.

Austin to Boston (2014)

http://austintobostonfilm.com/

5 old VW camper vans. 4 bands. 3 thousand miles. 2 weeks. 1 gloriously backwards tour. The adventure starts after a fire-fuelled final night at Austin's SXSW Music Festival, where the bands (Ben Howard, The Staves, Nathaniel Rateliff, Bear's Den) pile into their rides and head northeast. They play everywhere from bars to barns, rooms to rooftops, packing out tiny venues and wowing crowds with their unique sounds.

*Film was screened at several festivals in 2014.

Beep: A Documentary History of Video Game Music & Sound (2015)

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/veemix/beep-a-documentary-history-of-video-game-sound/

Beep is a feature-length documentary film & book of game sound & music from the mechanical arcades through to today's orchestras.

BBC Daft Punk Documentary (2015)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/worldwide/2014/daft-punk-documentary-canal

BBC Worldwide Productions France are to produce a documentary film about Daft Punk for Canal+ which will tell the extraordinary story of the two award-winning French DJ musicians hidden behind robot masks.

Fresh Dressed (2015)

http://www.sundance.org/projects/fresh-dressed

With funky, fat-laced Adidas, Kangol hats, and Cazal shades, a totally original look was born—Fresh—and it came from the black and brown side of town where another cultural force was revving up in the streets to take the world by storm. Hip-hop, and its aspirational relationship to fashion, would become such a force on the market that Tommy Hilfiger, in an effort to associate their brand with the cultural swell, would drive through the streets and hand out free clothing to kids on the corner.

Fresh Dressed is a fascinating, fun-to-watch chronicle of hip-hop, urban fashion, and the hustle that brought oversized pants and graffiti-drenched jackets from Orchard Street to high fashion's catwalks and Middle America shopping malls. Reaching deep to Southern plantation culture, the black church, and Little Richard, Director Sacha Jenkins' music-drenched history draws from a rich mix of archival materials and in-depth interviews with rappers, designers, and other industry insiders, such as Pharrell Williams, Damon Dash, Karl Kani, Kanye West, Nas Jones, and Andre Leon Talley. The result is a passionate telling of how the reach for freedom of expression and a better life by a culture that refused to be squashed, would, through sheer originality and swagger, take over the mainstream. —S.F.

Film produced by Nas and will premiere at 2015 Sundance Film Festival

For Those About To Rock (2014)

http://www.rodgab.com/for-those-about-to-rock-the-story-of-rodrigo-y-gabriela/

This is the story of Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero, two Mexicans who at a very early age decided to take the risk to pursue their dreams to live from what they loved the most: music.

HOW THEY GOT OVER (2015)

http://www.onestatefilms.com/howtheygotover.htm
Begun by filmmaker Robert Clem as a documentary on the Blind Boys of Alabama, How They Got Over documents the African-American quartets who traveled the back roads of the Deep South in the 1930s and 40s creating a new music form that began in the tradition of black spirituals and evolved into a hard gospel sound and vigorous performing style that foreshadowed the music of doo-wop, soul and Motown. To be completed for release in 2015, the film expands on our earlier documentary The Jefferson County Sound and includes interviews with surviving members of the Blind Boys of Alabama, Fairfield Four, Dixie Hummingbirds and Temptations.

HARDCORE DEVO LIVE! (2015)

DEVO was among the most thought-provoking bands to emerge in the aftermath of punk, but before hits like “Whip It,” they worked in the basements and garages of Akron, Ohio to make raw, unfiltered music that the group called “Hardcore DEVO.” In the summer of 2014, DEVO did ten shows performing these seminal pre-fame songs, created between 1974 and 1977 and rarely played since then. Shot at the Fox Theater in Oakland, California, this exciting concert film captures these groundbreaking artists performing the songs that started it all, interwoven with interviews revealing the history of the band.

Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck (2015)

http://www.sundance.org/projects/kurt-cobain-montage-of-heck
Experience Kurt Cobain like never before in the first fully authorized portrait of the famed rock music icon. Director Brett Morgen expertly blends Cobain's personal archive of art, music, and never-before-seen home movies with animation and revelatory interviews with his family and closest confidantes. Following Kurt from his earliest years in Aberdeen, Washington, through the height of his fame, a visceral and detailed cinematic insight of an artist at odds with his surroundings emerges.

While Cobain craved the spotlight even as he rejected the trappings of fame, his epic arc depicts a man who stayed true to his earliest punk rock convictions, always identifying with the "outsider" and ensuring the music came first.

Fans and those of the Nirvana generation will learn things about Cobain they never knew while those who have recently discovered the man and his music will know what makes him the lasting icon that he is. —H.C.

Premiering at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival

Landfill Harmonic(2015?)

http://www.landfillharmonicmovie.com/

The world generates about a billion tons of garbage a year. Those who live with it and from it are the poor – like the people of Cateura, Paraguay. And here they are transforming it into beauty. Landfill Harmonic follows the Orchestra as it takes its inspiring spectacle of trash-into-music around the world. Follow the lives of a garbage picker, a music teacher and a group of children from a Paraguayan slum that out of necessity started creating instruments entirely out of garbage. Landfill Harmonic is a beautiful story about the transformative power of music, which also highlights two vital issues of our times: poverty and waste pollution.

Should be hitting the 2015 Film Festival Circuit.

M.I.A. DOCUMENTARY (2015?)

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/mia-documentary-begins-shoot-britdoc-653395

Steve Loveridge's feature documentary about the life and times of musician M.I.A. has begun shooting in the British capital with producers BRITDOC boarding the project as co-producers.

U.K. based non-profit documentary support organization BRITDOC will co-produce with Yala Films and arrange finance and distribution along with Wiggin E.P, the packaging arm of media law firm Wiggin LLP.

Billed by the backers as a "magnet for controversy from her arrival on the music scene in 2003," M.I.A. has been hailed a creative genius and musical innovator on one hand and also vilified as a terrorist-supporting, misguided, attention seeker in some media quarters.

Professor Longhair: Making A Gumbo (2015)

http://www.professorlonghairfilm.com/

MAKING A GUMBO is a feature-length documentary on the life and music of New Orleans piano legend Henry Roeland Byrd aka Professor Longhair.

The Film reveals the stories behind the man named, The Picasso of Keyboard Funk, The Bach of Rock, The Granddaddy of Rock & Roll, Real King of Rock & Roll and to his friends and fans simply Fess.

The only true Rockumentry, exploring the history of the most influential musician, modern day has ever heard, or maybe you haven’t? The story of a musical genius, the man who really put the roll with the rock. Since January 2014, we’ve been filming musicians, historians and friends on both sides of the Atlantic. Paying out of pocket, sleeping on couches and air mattresses and begging favors from our filmmaking friends, we’ve managed to already interview:

No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers (2015)

http://nomanifestofilm.com/

Premiering in 30 Jan 2015! IN 1991, IN 1991, A BAND WITH THE UNLIKELY NAME OF MANIC STREET PREACHERS CAME ON TO THE BRITISH MUSIC SCENE PROCLAIMING AMBITIONS TO MAKE ONE ALBUM, SELL 16 MILLION COPIES OF IT, AND THEN SPLIT UP. A QUARTER CENTURY, MULTIPLE HIT RECORDS AND ONE MISSING MEMBER LATER, THEY ARE STILL HERE. NOW THIS COLOURFUL AND CONTENTIOUS BAND FACES OFF WITH THEIR EQUALLY COLOURFUL AND CONTENTIOUS FANS IN A VERITÉ MULTIMEDIA MASH-UP EXPERIMENT THAT WILL TURN THE TRADITIONAL ROCK’N’ROLL DOCUMENTARY UPSIDE-DOWN AND SHAKE IT UNTIL ALL THE CHANGE FALLS OUT OF ITS POCKETS.
FOR THE MAKING OF NO MANIFESTO, THE MANICS PROVIDED UNPRECEDENTED ACCESS. THE FILM TELLS THE STORY OF THE BAND’S RISE FROM MOUTHY PUNKS TO INTERNATIONAL RENOWN, TAKES A FASCINATING LOOK AT THE BAND'S CREATIVE PROCESS, AND JOINS THEM ON TOUR. BY COMBINING FOOTAGE SHOT AT HOME AND ON THE ROAD WITH RARE ARCHIVAL MATERIALS AND FAN INTERVIEWS THAT PROVIDE COMMENTARY, LORE, CRITICISM AND PRAISE, NO MANIFESTO GIVES A COMPREHENSIVE LOOK AT A MOST UNUSUAL BAND.

What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015, Netflix Premiere)

https://pr.netflix.com/WebClient/getNewsSummary.do?newsId=1781

Classically trained pianist, dive-bar chanteuse, black power icon and legendary recording artist, Nina Simone lived a life of brutal honesty, musical genius, and tortured melancholy. In this epic documentary, director Liz Garbus interweaves never-before-heard recordings and rare archival footage together with Nina’s most memorable songs, to create an unforgettable portrait of one of the least understood, yet most beloved, artists of our time.

The film uses never-before-heard audio tapes, recorded over the course of three decades, of Nina telling her life story to various interviewers and would-be biographers. From over 100 hours of these recordings, What Happened, Miss Simone? weaves together Nina’s narrative, told largely in her own words. Rare concert footage and archival interviews, along with diaries, letters, interviews with Nina’s daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, friends and collaborators, along with other exclusive materials, make this the most authentic, personal, and unflinching telling of the extraordinary life of one of the 20th Century's greatest recording artists.

Salad Days: The DC Punk Revolution (2015)

http://saladdaysdc.com/

“SALAD DAYS: The Birth of Hardcore Punk in the Nation’s Capital” is a documentary-in-progress that examines the fertile Washington, DC punk scene of the 1980s. This was a particularly important time in the evolution of punk and independent music, with DC based bands like Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Black Market Baby, the Faith, the Slickee Boys, Void, Government Issue, Marginal Man, Dag Nasty, 9353, Gray Matter, Beefeater, Scream, Rites of Spring, Fugazi, Shudder to Think, Nation of Ulysses, Jawbox and others defining the DC aesthetic. Local record labels like Dischord, Fountain of Youth, Teen Beat, and Simple Machines would become standard-bearers for the DIY revolution.

Suzanne Ciani: A Life in Waves (2015)

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2100662212/suzanne-ciani-a-life-in-waves

A Life in Waves is a feature-length documentary film that explores the life and innovations of electronic music pioneer, Suzanne Ciani.

If you watched television, went to the movies, or listened to the radio in the 80s and 90s, you've probably heard Suzanne Ciani's work, whether you knew it or not. Suzanne is a five-time Grammy award nominated composer, electronic music pioneer, and neo-classical recording artist whose work has been featured in countless commercials, video games, and feature films. A self-taught pianist with classical music training from The Longy School of Music and Wellesley College, Suzanne discovered electronic music in the late 60s and quickly became immersed in the male-dominated worlds of sound synthesis and computer music. Differentiating herself from contemporaries like Brian Eno, Giorigio Moroder, and Klaus Schulze, Suzanne created sensual, feminine sounds that pulsed and flowed, with textures more akin to ocean waves than to the dark atmosphere common in early electronic music.

Syl Johnson: Any Way The Wind Blows (2015)

http://www.syljohnsonmovie.com/

A portrait of a forgotten yet hugely influential African-American musician, Syl Johnson, whose 6 decade career has spanned every genre of black music from the blues, to soul to hip hop. In spite of enjoying modest success in the 60s and working with the same band and producer as Al Green in the 70s, his music remained largely unknown and his career was seemingly over by the 80s. With the advent of hip hop, his 1967 song “Different Strokes” became extremely popular among DJs and producers and was sampled by artists including Run-DMC, Public Enemy, NWA, Boogie Down Productions, Beastie Boys, Wu-Tang Clan, Jay-Z and Kanye West. The release of a box set on the Numero Group label in 2010 further revived his career and brought Syl his first Grammy nomination. With fiery concert footage from then and now, a funky energetic soundtrack, Any Way The Wind Blows shows how talent and perseverance can prevail in the end.

The Smart Studios Story (2015)

http://www.smartstudiosdocumentary.com/

Feature length documentary about the legendary recording facility, Smart Studios, and the Midwest link to American rock history. The Smart Studios Story covers the Midwest's post-hardcore scene, the early relationships of now-legendary indie labels (Touch and Go, Caroline, Frontier, Sub Pop, Slash, SST, Alternative Tentacles), and the circulation and broadcast of local music. Butch and Steve helped promote the bands and the shows with community radio airtime and cassette compilations that paralleled those of other regional, indie music disseminators like the Seattle-based Sub Pop Singles Club.

The 78 Project Movie (2014)

http://the78project.com/the-78-project-movie/

A journey across America to record today’s musicians on 1930s technology in a quest to connect with the haunting recordings of the past. The 78 Project began as an acclaimed series of web episodes, which we shot over the past year with generous and talented musicians in New York City. Our feature-length film will take the energy of the series to exciting new places and people.