Rock on: Conference highlights the music documentary

Bob Dylan in 1963 with the singer-songwriter Joan Baez, both of whom featured in the documentary Don't Look Back

Film-makers and musicians will be gathering in Brighton this summer for the first-ever music documentary conference, organised by the University of Sussex.

MusicDOC11 is a one-day conference (Saturday 9 July 2011) devoted to the music documentary genre (or "rockumentary", a term first coined by Rolling Stone magazine in 1967) that will investigate the artistic and social impact of rock and pop as seen through the eyes of fans and film-makers.

The conference has been organised by a team of academics, musicians and film makers from the University of Sussex and Brighton Institute of Modern Music (BIMM).

Ever since Bob Dylan's particular brand of cool was explored in films such as D A Pennebaker's Don't Look Back (filmed during Dylan's UK tour of 1965) through to the BBC's recent BBC4 Britannia series of music-genre documentaries, the rockumentary has served as an important chronicler of modern culture.

The last decade has seen steady growth in the genre, alongside the proliferation of television channels, film festivals and online sites.  And there have been the spoofs, too, most notably This Is Spinal Tap.

One of the organisers, University of Sussex history lecturer Dr Lucy Robinson, says: "This relatively recent expansion coupled with the breadth of its range and focus offers a timely opportunity for historical investigation."

She adds: "Music documentary constitutes a unique primary source through which to engage with popular culture since the 1960s because it embraces issues of life history/hagiography, mediated performance and technology, fandom and celebrity culture, promotional culture and cultural history."

MusicDOC11 brings together prominent documentary makers, historians and musicians alongside fans and broadcasters to reflect on the genre's heritage and to explore and enjoy the current explosion in music documentary making.

As well as showcasing new talent, the organisers will bring together seminal documentary makers who will guide the audience through the history and appeal of documentaries that take popular music as their central concern.

Speakers include: Peter Whitehead, the film-maker who documented the counterculture in London and New York in the late 1960s and who made the first Rolling Stones documentary; Johnny Hopkins (former Oasis Press Manager); Andy Markowitz, co-founder and chief content wrangler at, where he blogs, interviews, and podcasts about music documentaries; and film-makers' organisation Shooting People, as well Pete Wiggs from St Etienne and a diverse number of musicians from bands such as Sleeper and Chumbawamba. 

MusicDOC11 takes place at Place: The Basement, 24 Kensington Street, Brighton on Saturday 9 July 2011, 10.00am - 6.00pm

Notes for Editors


Tickets: £5 / £2.50 per panel | £10 / £5 for the day (3 panels)


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MusicDOC11 is being organised by a team of academics, musicians and film makers based in Brighton, with links to the University of Sussex and Brighton Institute of Modern Music (BIMM)

TOP ROCKUMENTARIES - all the way up to 11....

  • Don't Look Back - Documentary covering Bob Dylan's 1965 tour of England (Director: D A Pennebaker , 1967)
  • Gimme Shelter - covering the Rolling Stones' tumultuous tour of 1969, particularly focusing on the tragic concert at Altamont (Dir: Maysles brothers (1970)
  • Tonite Let's Make Love in London - An homage to Swinging London, with appearance by Mick Jagger, amongst other 60s luminaries (Dir: Peter Whitehead, 1967)
  • Glastonbury Fayre When Glasto was truly a free and hippy heaven, featuring Fairport Convention, Traffic and Arthur Brown (Dir: Peter Neal, 1972)
  • The Punk Rock Movie Documentary on the London punk-rock scene, circa '78. (Dir: Don Letts 1978)
  • UK Subs - Punk Can Take It - music short featuring punksters UK Subs(Dir: Julien Temple 1979)
  • Oil City Confidential - The story of 70s band Dr Feelgood, from Canvey Island to greatest local band in the world (Dir: Julien Temple, 2009)
  • No Direction Home - A chronicle of Bob Dylan's strange evolution between 1961 and 1966 from folk singer to rock star. (Dir: Martin Scorsese, 2005)
  • Anvil: The Story of Anvil - A Canadian heavy metal band's last-ditch bid to rise from obscurity and into the limelight, despite influencing a generation of rock legends (Dir: Sacha Gervasi, 2008)
  • The Posters Came From the Walls Turner Prize-winning artist (and University of Sussex alumnus) Jeremy Deller and collaborator Nicholas Abrahams explore stories of devotion from Depeche Mode fans across the world.  (Dir: Nick Abrahams, 2009)
  • Dig! - pop rivalry is taken to extremes in this account of the star-crossed front men of the Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre  (Dir: Ondi Timoner, 2004)

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune and Jacqui Bealing

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Last updated: Wednesday, 29 June 2011