The film about the musical iconoclast is scheduled to premiere next week at this year Sundance Film Festival. Directed by Thorsten Schütte (“World Jazz”), the film uses television interviews and performance footage to make a case for Zappa’s influence both as a self-taught composer and performer, and as a thinker, whose opposition to censorship made him an inspiration for artists.
It marks the first major deal of the festival for Sony Pictures Classics. The indie label is usually an active buyer at the Park City, Utah gathering, having acquired “Grandma” with Lily Tomlin and the Oscar-winning “Whiplash” in past editions. It also comes as documentaries, particularly those about musicians, are gaining critical and popular attention. Last summer, “Amy,” a portrait of troubled star Amy Winehouse, became a box office hit, earning more than $20 million globally.
The deal was negotiated by Sony Pictures Classics with Josh Braun, Dan Braun and David Koh of Submarine on behalf of the filmmakers.