From Billie Eilish to the Bee Gees: Why Music Documentaries Are Booming

Brian Welk
·1-min read

Producer Mary Wharton didn’t know how she would continue working once the pandemic hit, but she got some help from Tom Petty. The rock star died in 2017, but he left behind a treasure trove of footage that would become Wharton’s upcoming music documentary “Tom Petty: Somewhere You Feel Free.” The movie is making its premiere as one of three headlining films at the SXSW Film Festival, and, in fact, all three movies headlining the festival are music documentaries, including docs on Demi Lovato and Charli XCX. The films are part of a surge of documentaries centered on notable musicians regardless of genre or generation — rock or pop, living or dead, archival-based or fly-on-the-wall style, and everything in between. In 2020, TheWrap counted a rough shortlist of at least 20 music docs, including films about The Go-Gos, The Bee Gees, The Beastie Boys, Blind Melon, J Balvin, Taylor Swift, Shawn Mendes, Bruce Springsteen and others. In 2021, we’ve already seen films about Billie Eilish, Britney Spears, Tekashi 6ix9ine and Sparks, and you can expect more, including films on Tina Turner, Little Richard, The Velvet Underground, Jerry Lee Lewis and, of course, The Beatles. Also Read: The 'Tiger King' Effect:...

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