For six years Doc’n Roll Film Festival has been giving a home to underground music documentaries, many of which never made it to the small screen, let alone the big. It’s an outlet for guerrilla filmmakers uncovering forgotten music histories and subcultures through old photographs and found footage. Its organisers were forced to cancel or postpone almost 70 events across March, April and May, but they’ve found a way to bring niche music documentaries to you in lockdown: Doc’n Roll TV.
The festival has made 28 films available to stream on its site for a fee (starting at £3.20), with more to come. Colm Forde, an audio-visual archivist who set up the fest in 2014, said: ‘Doc’n Roll TV’s launch lineup is a hand-picked selection of under-the-radar music documentaries, most of which premiered at past editions of Doc’n Roll Film Festival. This unique video on demand platform reflects our determination to bring great music docs to a nationwide audience… and especially during these uncertain times when escapism is no longer frowned upon.’
There are docs to stream on big names like Al Green and Gil Scott Heron, along with stories you might not have heard. Go back to the 1970s to listen to Death, a trio of brothers credited as the first black punk band, pre-dating the the Sex Pistols and even the Ramones. Take a psychedelic ride through the career of Betty Davis, a pioneering but elusive funk artist who wrote songs for The Chambers Brothers and the Commodores, and produced an iconic album of her own, ‘They Say I’m Different’. Looking for something experimental? Step into the first full-length documentary on American free jazz/noise rock group Borbetomagus, ‘A Pollock of Sound’.
For something closer to home, try ‘Manchester Keeps on Dancing’, a vibrant account of house music’s arrival in Manchester in the 1980s that takes you right up to the city’s acid house explosion. Using previously unseen footage, and commentary from respected DJs of the scene (including the late Andrew Weatherall) it takes you far beyond the well-worn history of the Haçienda.
Somewhere in those 28 documentaries is your next new music obsession.
Find the full streaming list here.
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