5 Great Concert Films Directed by Famous Filmmakers


Earlier this week it was announced that Terry Gilliam, director of films such as Brazil and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, will helm the live stream of Arcade Fire’s August 5 show at Madison Square Garden as part of American Express’s Unstaged series. Luckily for us impatient types, Gilliam is not the first major filmmaker to use his cinematic eye to commit live rock ‘n’ roll performances to film. We’ve rounded up five of our favorite concert films by well-known directors after the jump. Check out our picks, and leave a comment with any that we missed.

1. Martin Scorsese – The Last Waltz (1978)

Featuring guest performances from Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Ringo Starr, Scorsese’s film about the end of The Band’s touring career is lauded by critics as the best concert film ever made. His 2005 Bob Dylan doc, No Direction Home , and 2008’s Shine a Light, which featured footage from the Rolling Stones’ A Bigger Bang tour are also must-sees.

2. Jonathan Demme – Stop Making Sense (1984)

Best known for dramatic films like Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, Demme made this movie with the Talking Heads back in 1983 while they were touring in support of Speaking in Tongues. The film was most known for being the first to use solely digital audio techniques.

3. Jim Jarmusch – Year of the Horse (1997)

The beloved independent filmmaker followed Neil Young & Crazy Horse on their 1996 tour to capture all the live performance and behind-the-scenes footage for this documentary.

4. Peter Bogdanovich – Runnin’ Down a Dream (2007)

This four-hour documentary on the band from the noted film historian and The Last Picture Show director spans 30 years of their career, and is a mixture of home videos, live concert footage, and interviews with fellow musicians.

5. Michel Gondry – Block Party (2005)

Inspired in part by Mel Stuart’s 1973 documentary Wattstax , Dave Chappelle threw a block party for local residents in the Clinton Hill/Bedford-Stuyvestant neighborhoods of Brooklyn that included an amazing all-star line-up: Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Kanye West, and a specially-reunited Fugees.