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11 July, 2019

The world of music is a weird and wonderful place. This weekend, delve into the lives, loves, scandal and intrigue of musical geniuses and renegades. Here’s our list of docos to binge this weekend and where you can find them.

I Called Him Morgan, (2016) Netflix
In February 1972, 33-year-old jazz trumpet star Lee Morgan was shot and killed during a gig at a club in New York City. The person who pulled the trigger: his common-law wife Helen. This murder sent a shockwave through the jazz community that is still haunted by the crime. Helen served time and following her release, faded into obscurity.

20 years on, a chance encounter led her to give a remarkably candid interview which acts as a refrain throughout the film. Together with archival photography and footage, and notable talking head interviews, it paints a portrait of the ill-fated duo and the music that brought them together.

Chasing Trane, (2017) Netflix
Miss this one at MIJF this year? You’re in luck – it’s still available on Netflix.

Chasing Trane is the definitive documentary film about the extraordinary saxophonist John Coltrane. The film brings to life one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century, from his first note as a 13 year old, to his early career playing alongside Dizzy Gillespie, Eddie Vinson and Jimmy Heath, to break out performances with the Miles Davis Quintet and a partnership with Thelonious Monk, and an astonishing solo career.  

Coltrane’s early death at just 40 left behind an enigmatic persona and a legacy that this film unpacks with the help of the Coltrane family and the labels that own his full back catalogue.

What Happened, Miss Simone?, (2015) Netflix
This Oscar-nominated documentary explores the life and legend of high priestess of soul, Nina Simone. It combines previously unreleased archival footage and interviews with Simone’s daughter and friends to tell her story. Simone became a towering figure in music and a prominent civil rights activist. But, her legacy is not without its controversy. This film tells the whole complicated story of a musical icon.

GURRUMUL, (2017) SBS on Demand
Celebrated by audiences at home and abroad, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu was one of the most important voices to ever come out of Australia. Blind from birth, he found meaning in music inspired by his community on Elcho Island in far North East Arnhem Land. GURRUMUL is a portrait of an artist on the brink of global reverence, and the struggle to balance that which matters most and keeping the show on the road.

20 Feet From Stardom, (2013) Stan
Did you love Ms Lisa Fischer at MIJF 2019? She stars in this Oscar-winning documentary that uncovers untold true stories women behind some of the biggest acts in the world. Meet the background singers who have spent their lives touring with The Rolling Stones, Sting, Elton John, Stevie Wonder. Full of irresistible personalities and incredible voices, this film will have you asking why these divas weren’t centre stage where they belong.

Paul Kelly: Stories of Me, (2012) Stan
With a career spanning over 30 years, Paul Kelly is one of Australia’s best-known singer-songwriters. Few have managed to capture the Australian experience and the politics quite like him, and this film unpacks his career and the hurdles along the way. It features interviews with Kelly’s family, friends and fellow musicians including novelists Richard Flanagan and Fiona McGregor, film director Rachel Perkins and musicians Megan Washington and Archie Roach.

Mystify: Michael Hutchence, (2019) in Cinemas this weekend
A powerful and intimate portrait of internationally renowned INXS frontman Michael Hutchence. Woven from an extraordinary archive of imagery, Hutchence’s home movies and footage from his friends, family, and lovers, this film delves beneath the public persona of a ‘Rock God’ and reveals the complicated and intensely sensitive man.

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