Part of SFFILM Festival
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool
Only iconic filmmaker and Festival favorite Stanley Nelson, could create a documentary that matches the artistry and dynamism of Miles Davis, who defined and embodied “cool” through his music, casual demeanor, and chiseled good looks. Featuring a voice-over from actor Carl Lumbly who eerily captures Davis’s quintessential rasp, Birth of the Cool skillfully weaves together Davis’s classic jazz performances, rare recordings, archival photos, and interviews with Quincy Jones, Carlos Santana, and Juliette Gréco to present a dimensional and complex portrait of an artist’s life.
“Directed by the gifted Stanley Nelson (The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution), Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool is a tantalizing portrait: rich, probing, mournful, romantic, triumphant, tragic, exhilarating, and blisteringly honest. If you were 15 years old and walked into this movie having never heard of Miles Davis, you’d walk out touching the essence of who he is (and would probably be hungry to hear a dozen different albums). If you’re a Miles Davis fanatic from way back and think you already know everything about him, the movie, with its sharply edited interviews and stunning archival reach, fills in nuances of the man that feel fresh and new. That’s what first-rate classical documentary filmmaking does: It brings a life you may already know to even greater life.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
Acclaimed documentarian Stanley Nelson made his feature directing debut with The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords (Festival 1999), winner of the Festival’s Golden Spire for Film & Video – History and the Sundance Film Festival’s Freedom of Expression Award. Among his other films are Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (Festival 2006), winner of the Festival’s Golden Gate Award for Bay Area Documentary Feature; Freedom Riders (2010), winner of three Primetime Emmy Awards; Freedom Summer (Festival 2014); The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (Festival 2015), recipient of an Image Award for Outstanding Documentary; and Rise Up: The Movement that Changed America (2018).