MRC Non-Fiction’s feature documentary “Burn It Down!,” which reexamines the infamous Woodstock ’99 music festival, will have its world premiere at the 65th British Film Institute (BFI) London Film Festival.
The festival took place during the last summer of the 20th century on July 23-25, 1999 and featured performances by Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit, Korn, Insane Clown Posse, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Wyclef Jean and Sheryl Crow among others. It was meant to invoke the spirit of the iconic 1969 Woodstock music festival on its 30th anniversary, but failed to do so.
“Festival organisers cobbled together a poorly conceived rehash of an iconic cultural moment. From security, to basic needs, nothing had been properly planned,” reads the film’s description in the BFI London Film Festival program. “The line-up was a cocktail of 1990s pop rock and peak nu metal angry-white-man bands, including Limp Bizkit and Korn. What began as carefree revelry descended into a lethal cauldron of violence, sexual assault and carnage. Through archive footage and interviews, directors Tim Travers Hawkins and Celia Aniskovich eloquently explore the cultural shift and political context that punctuated Woodstock ’99 and the toxic white masculinity that continues to rage after it.”
Made in partnership with Rolling Stone magazine, the film includes never-before-seen footage, going beyond the headlines to capture the real stories of the event from the perspectives of those who lived them.
The project is the latest from “XY Chelsea” director Tim Travers Hawkins and debut feature documentary director Celia Aniskovich, and is produced by Julia Nottingham through Dorothy Street Pictures and Aniskovich, along with executive producers Max Hirschman and Joanna Zwickel (“Fyre Fraud”).
“This was the music that defined a generation. At a time when the very concept of live music performance is under threat, we have unique access to a thrilling archive that not only immerses people in a watershed moment, but also speaks more widely to the times, then and now,” said Travers Hawkins and Aniskovich.
“Everything about Woodstock ’99 has become more prescient and fascinating with the benefit of hindsight,” said Amit Dey, head of MRC Non-Fiction. “Dorothy St. Pictures have collected incredible insight into the events of that weekend and we are excited to work with them to tell the definitive, and unfortunately very relevant story of how Woodstock 99 went down.”
Nottingham recently formed production company Dorothy Street Pictures. The outfit’s first project, “Be Water,” about the life and impact of Bruce Lee, premiered at Sundance 2020 and later premiered on ESPN’s “30 for 30.”
MRC Non-Fiction’s slate includes Edgar Wright’s 2021 Sundance title “The Sparks Brothers”; untitled Sly Stone and Rudy Giuliani documentaries; and “Girl You Know It’s True,” chronicling the meteoric rise and fall of pop duo Milli Vanilli.
MRC and Variety parent company Penske Media Company operate a publishing joint venture and strategic content partnership with brands. MRC also has has minority investments in A24, Fulwell 73, Sugar23 and T-Street.
The BFI London Film Festival takes place Oct. 6-17.