Highlights at the Doc’n Roll film festival 2022 

One of the country’s most vibrant music film festivals returns for its 9th edition this month, with productions exploring such diverse genres as punk, jazz, psychedelic rock and electronic music. In 2022, Doc’n Roll Film Festival collates 23 features and nine shorts to London screens before sending them on tour around the country —  with live Q&As with directors and musicians, DJ sets, afterparties and post-screening gigs ensuring that it will be an event to remember.

With this year’s event committing to 50/50 gender balance in terms of filmmakers, Doc’n Roll 2022 also flies the flag for music as a means of inspiration and empowerment in the name of social and political change. The event takes place from October 27th to November 13th, and you can find some of our highlights from the programme below:

A Film About Studio Electrophonique (James Taylor, 2022)

Studio Electrophonique was a tiny music studio located in Sheffield car mechanic Ken Patten’s council house in the ‘70s and ‘80s. It housed synthesisers in the living room, an electronic drum kit in the bedroom, and a DIY vocoder made from old RAF microphones and toilet rolls, among other equipment. Despite this modest set-up, the studio ended up being the launchpad for some of the UK’s biggest bands of the era — with The Human League, Heaven 17 and Pulp all recording some of their earliest works there.

James Taylor’s film offers an ode to this “golden age of Sheffield pop”, which took place against the backdrop of mass redundancies in the industrial town during Thatcher’s premiership. New interviews from Jarvis Cocker and Martyn Ware are among those that colour the story of this site where the “sounds of space-age Sheffield” were captured.

Energy: a Documentary about Damo Suzuki (Michelle Heighway, 2022)

Once the experimental frontman of the krautrock band Can, regarded for free-flowing lyrics that refused to conform to the boundaries of language, Damo Suzuki has for decades been carving a singular identity as a wandering musician on a never-ending global tour.

But since being diagnosed with cancer, the influential musician has been forced to face up to a new reality. This enlightenment is something that Michelle Heighway captures in her new film ‘Energy: a Documentary about Damo Suzuki’, an intimate portrait over five years in the making.

This Is National Wake (Mirissa Neff, 2022)

“By existing together as a band and living under the same roof, they’re actually breaking the law,” reads the news report in the trailer to ‘This Is National Wake’. This new Super-8 documentary explores the brief career of South Africa’s first multiracial punk band — who defied apartheid-era racism in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s by playing and performing when it was illegal to do so.

Despite their oppression, a trove of archive footage on the band— consisting of a white Jewish guitarist and two Black brothers of Shangaan heritage — has survived for over 40 years. In ‘This Is National Wake’, New York music journalist Mirissa Neff dives right into the heart of this rare footage, interweaving it with present-day reflections to create an immersive narrative.

Music for the Deaf (Chloé Aknine, 2021)

Chloé Aknine’s short utilises the expertise of musicologists Sylvain Brétéché and Jean-Pierre Moreau, deaf bassist Lily Regnault, and sign singers Igor Casas and Marie Lemot to bring new understanding to the world of deaf music.

The 14-minute film explores how vibratory sound and the synergy between images and music have created new kinds of musical expressions. By departing from audio-centric understandings of musicality and overcoming prejudices, ‘Music for the Deaf’ offers a new definition of the concept as a transcendent form of expression involving all the senses.

Age of Rage: The Australian Punk Revolution (Jennifer Ross, 2022)

Jennifer Ross’ exploration of Australia’s “fast and furious” punk explosion charts its emergence from the politically conservative ‘70s all the way to the present, contextualising it within wider social protest movements and pitching it as a DIY counter-culture full of angst and defiance.

With the recent global emergence of contemporary Australian punk bands like Amyl & The Sniffers and The Chats, ‘Age of Rage’ feels like a vital history lesson arriving with great timing. Key artists like Cosmic Psychos and Def FX are among those who contribute their stories.

Heaven Stood Still: The Incarnations of Willy DeVille (Larry Locke, 2022)

New York’s contemporary music history is indelibly tied to that of CBGB — an iconic venue that housed everyone from The Ramones and Talking Heads to Green Day and Patti Smith. But right at the heart of the CBGB family (he was a member of the venue’s house band, to be exact) there was also a musician whose own musical legacy spans myriad genres, countries and careers.

That man is Willy DeVille, the subject of Larry Locke’s new documentary. Respected by everyone from Ben E. King to Bob Dylan, DeVille collaborated with artists as diverse as Jack Nitzsche, Mark Knopfler and Allen Toussaint, and wrote and performed the Academy Award-nominated theme to The Princess Bride while also dabbling in Latin punk and New Orleans soul. This film posits him as one of the most original and accomplished artists of his era — exploring his story in a manner rarely observed in other media.