The Sundance Film Festival has always been known for its documentaries, but the lineup for the 11-day run that kicked off Thursday rocks especially hard.
The Eagles get their own documentary treatment; Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl directs and produces a tribute to a legendary recording studio; heavyweights such as Mick Jagger, Bono, Bette Midler and Bruce Springsteen appear in works about backup singers and the spiritual home of classic rock and soul music; and music mixes with politics in a film about feminist punk rockers Pussy Riot.
Saturday features the world premiere of History of the Eagles, Part One by director Alison Ellwood, the first half of a two-disc DVD package (no release date yet). The four current members of the band, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit, are expected to attend.
Part One follows the group from its beginnings in the early-'70s Los Angeles music scene, when Henley and Frey left as backup singers to Linda Ronstadt to start their own band, and ends with their 1980 breakup. Part Two follows the various members' solo careers and the re-formation of the band in 1994, and brings viewers to the present, where the band reigns as a successful touring act.
The films feature interviews with current members (and past ones such as Don Felder), plus Ronstadt and California governor Jerry Brown. They're accompanied by a treasure-trove of home movies and unseen footage from early interviews and concerts.
"The myth about the Eagles is that they were constantly squabbling, and there is some of that," says Ellwood. "But there was a lot of camaraderie, love for one another and the music. And that comes across in the footage."
Friday sees the premiere of Sound City, which features Grohl directing, producing and appearing in a look at the fabled Van Nuys, Calif., recording studio Sound City Studio, whose 41-year run as a commercial recording center ended in 2011 - a victim to the digital music age. Among the notable albums recorded there: Neil Young's After the Gold Rush,1975's Fleetwood Mac and Nirvana's Nevermind.
For the film, Grohl pulls together musicians such as Stevie Nicks, Young, Tom Petty, Trent Reznor, Rick Springfield and Paul McCartney to create a new album at the studio.
Among the other musical documentaries scheduled for later in the festival:
"It's a very good year for music," says festival director John Cooper. "It really shows that documentary filmmaking is really turning to that area of interest."
Contributing: Jerry Shriver