(L-R) One More Time With Feeling, Two Trains Runnin', Soundbreaking, Long Strange Trip, The Defiant Ones
2018 GRAMMY Nominations: Best Music Film Roundup
In a year rife with quality music documentaries and series, the bar has been set high for the Best Music Film category for the 60th GRAMMY Awards.
Furthermore, today's entertainment landscape is rife with myriad on-demand streaming options boasting instant online access to deep catalogs and a slew of new original series. Through all of the competition for our time and attention, five films have risen above the noise to receive GRAMMY nominations.
Nominated projects include fascinating deep dives into some of the most seminal moments and movements in music history, as well as some of today's most powerful industry players and most personal transformations. But at the core of these five nominated projects are two inalienable elements: music and storytelling.
Let's take a closer look at the stories being told by this year's GRAMMY nominees for Best Music Film.
One More Time With Feeling, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Andrew Dominik, video director; Dulcie Kellett & James Wilson, video producers
In a stark portrayal of a musical and poetic genius in a compound state of creativity and grief, One More Time With Feeling chronicles the bittersweet efforts in the making of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' latest album, Skeleton Tree. The tragic death of Cave's 15-year-old son is the dark backdrop of the album — and the film — lending a spiritual gravity to this candid look at its recording process. Director and longtime friend of Cave's, Andrew Dominik, captures the scene and story in striking black-and-white 3-D, intensifying this look inside one of music's most super-human talents and some of his most human moments.
Long Strange Trip (The Grateful Dead)
Amir Bar-Lev, video director; Alex Blavatnik, Ken Dornstein, Eric Eisner, Nick Koskoff & Justin Kreutzmann, video producers
This documentary from Amazon Films takes a creative approach to capturing the circus that was and is the Grateful Dead. From their hyper-communal beginnings, to infamous drug experiments, to building a traveling society. Long Strange Trip feels like a Dead show itself, with lifts, drops and swirls transporting the viewer into the momentary euphoria of a better place where the music has the power to make you feel part of something bigger.
The film also portrays the pressure, sadness and confinement success can bring, especially as it was thrust upon Jerry Garcia, the Dead's greatest and most tragic hero. Through rare, never-before-seen footage, living-room-floor interviews and inventive visual storytelling, Long Strange Trip captures the inevitable come-down of life's greatest party without dampening the spirit of the Dead as it was then and as it lives on today.
The Defiant Ones (Various Artists)
Allen Hughes, video director; Sarah Anthony, Fritzi Horstman, Broderick Johnson, Gene Kirkwood, Andrew Kosove, Laura Lancaster, Michael Lombardo, Jerry Longarzo, Doug Pray & Steven Williams, video producers
This story of an unlikely duo taking the music business by storm seems better suited for fantastical pages of a comic book, but for engineer-turned-mogul Jimmy Iovine and super-producer Dr. Dre, it's all truth. The Defiant Ones recounts their histories, their tribulations and their wild success. These include first-hand accounts from those who were there in Iovine's early days, such as Bruce Springsteen and U2's Bono, as well as those on board when Dre and Iovine joined forces, such as Snoop Dogg and Eminem.
The four-part documentary is a must-see for aspiring music business professionals looking for inspiration to overcome obstacles, external and internal.
"Fear is a powerful thing. It's got a lot of firepower," says Iovine in the film's trailer, reflecting on teaming up with Dre. "It was the beginning of making fear a tail wind instead of a head wind."
Soundbreaking (Various Artists)
Maro Chermayeff & Jeff Dupre, video directors; Joshua Bennett, Julia Marchesi, Sam Pollard, Sally Rosenthal, Amy Schewel & Warren Zanes, video producers
The scope of PBS' Soundbreaking documentary is staggering, with an artist list spanning six decades that reads like a wall in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The eight-part series takes a high energy approach to regaling, as they aptly put it, "Stories from the cutting edge of recorded music." With more than 150 original interviews, Soundbreaking leaves no stone unturned in exploring the impact recordings have made on music, people and culture. Most importantly, the series reverently weaves the stories of engineers and producers who crafted the sounds of the future with the artists who launched their generation into it.
Two Trains Runnin' (Various Artists)
Sam Pollard, video director; Benjamin Hedin, video producer
Some moments in history seem so pivotal, it's hard to imagine them not happening. Such is the case with not one or two, but three events that coincided on June 21, 1964. Two Trains Runnin' is the story of these three defining moments.
Narrated by Common, who also served as executive producer, the film tells the story of three young civil rights workers who were murdered by Ku Klux Klan members in Neshoba County, Miss., while participating in the Freedom Summer voter initiative. The tragedy made national headlines and marked a crucial moment in the civil rights movement. On the same day, two sets of men began searches for lost Delta bluesmasters Son House and Skip James in Rochester, N.Y., and Tunica, Miss., respectively. Two Trains Runnin' incorporates all three stories into one remarkable film.
"I was initially hesitant to try and tackle this," director Sam Pollard told Rolling Stone. "I thought that telling the story of the search for Son House and Skip James would be hard, but telling the story of Freedom Summer would be double-y or even triple-y hard. But I said, 'OK, let's tackle it.' It took us on a journey."