The documentary, directed by Amir Bar-Lev, has been in the works since 2010. Bar-Lev’s credits include “The Tillman Story” and “Happy Valley.”
“The tale of The Grateful Dead is inspiring, complicated. and downright messy,” the festival said. “A tribe of contrarians, they made art out of open-ended chaos and inadvertently achieved success on their own terms. Never-before-seen footage and interviews offer this unprecedented and unvarnished look at the life of the Dead.”
Producers are Eric Eisner, Nicholas Koskoff, Justin Kreutzmann and Ken Dornstein. Martin Scorsese’s Sikelia Productions is executive producing. Alex Blavatnik is financing.
The band first performed as The Warlocks on May 5, 1965, at Magoo’s Pizza in Menlo Park, Calif. The Grateful Dead disbanded in 1995 following the death of guitarist Jerry Garcia.
Garcia was acclaimed for combining blues, rock, and psychedelic elements with a mastery of improvisational guitar. He pointed to a 1961 traffic accident — in which he was thrown from the car — as the turning point in his commitment to music.
Sundance has also added the documentary “Bending the Arc” by Kief Davidson and Pedro Kos, written by Cori Shepherd Stern. The film follows doctors and activists — including Paul Farmer, Jim Yong Kim, and Ophelia Dahl— whose work 30 years ago to save lives in a rural Haitian village grew into a global battle in the halls of power for the right to health for all.
The festival also added screenings of archive films “Desert Hearts” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs,” which premiered at the film festival in 1986 and 1992, respectively. The archive films are selections from the Sundance Institute Collection at UCLA, a joint venture between UCLA Film & Television Archive and Sundance Institute.