A new Venice-bound documentary on singer Leonard Cohen will be shopped internationally by doc specialists Dogwoof.
Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine’s latest feature “Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song” is executive produced by Oscar winner Morgan Neville and Jonathan Dana, a long-time collaborator of directors Geller and Goldfine (“The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden”). The film explores the poet and singer-songwriter’s life through the lens of what’s arguably his most famous work, the hymn “Hallelujah,” which has been covered countless times by other artists over the years.
“Hallelujah” will world premiere Out of Competition at the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 2.
“With Leonard Cohen’s worldwide reputation and ‘Hallelujah’s’ standing as one of the most recognized and covered songs from any artist, Dogwoof’s abilities as a global partner create a perfect fit for representing our documentary. We are delighted to work with their excellent team,” said Geller and Goldfine, who both directed and produced the feature.
Anna Godas, CEO of Dogwoof, added: “Everyone has their favourite version of Hallelujah, whether Jeff Buckley, John Cale, kd lang, Brandi Carlile, or Leonard Cohen’s original, this hymn transcends genres and generations. In the deft hands of Dan and Dayna — using an incredible amount of never-before-seen archive and personal notes from Leonard’s life — we have a real exploration of the genius of Leonard Cohen and the magic of his words.”
Approved for production by Cohen just before his 80th birthday in 2014 (the artist died in 2016), the film presents a “deep exploration” of “Hallelujah” from its origins and its poor initial reception, to its resurrection and influence on other artists, who have helped it to become one of the most recognized and lionized songs of all time.
The doc features interviews with Rufus Wainwright, Brandi Carlile, Judy Collins, Regina Spektor, Amanda Palmer and Eric Church, among others, who have all recorded and performed their own versions of the song. Other interviewees include Cohen’s long-time artistic collaborator Sharon Robinson, John Lissauer, producer and arranger of the original version of “Hallelujah,” record industry legend Clive Davis, and Larry “Ratso” Sloman, author, ex-Rolling Stone reporter and long-time interviewer of Cohen who shares never-before-heard, unedited tapes of interviews he recorded with the singer between 1974 and 2005.
In addition, the Leonard Cohen Family Trust has made available to the filmmakers previously unseen personal notebooks, journals and photographs, performance footage and extremely rare audio recordings and interviews.
The deal was negotiated between Dogwoof’s Godas and Paul Mayersohn of Surpin, Mayersohn & Coghill LLP on behalf of the filmmakers.
The film was edited by Goldfine, with Bill Weber and Geller. It was executive produced by Dana, Neville, Michael Drews and Robin Sagon. Alan Light was consulting producer with Celeste Schaefer Snyder. John Lissauer provided an original score; Hal Willner was music producer; and Rachel Fox provided music supervision.
The documentary was inspired by the book “The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley & the Unlikely Ascent of Hallelujah” by Alan Light.