Paisley Park Kicks off Concert Film Series

Featuring Stax Records, Aretha Franklin, and Dave Chappelle
Screenshot from "Amazing Grace" trailer/YouTube
Screenshot from “Amazing Grace” trailer/YouTube

This weekend, Paisley Park launches the first of what it promises will be many new projects in 2020: the “Paisley Park Cinema: Music on the Big Screen” film series.

As the name suggests, the Chanhassen production compound/museum/event venue/magical lair will screen movies “reflecting a profound moment in music and culture,” tapping Prince’s top-of-the-line sound system.

“Prince built Paisley Park as a hub of creativity, and to celebrate and inspire original music and art,” says Alan Seiffert, executive director of Paisley Park. “There is no better way for us to launch into 2020 than to showcase the artistry, compelling performances, and cultural significance of these critically acclaimed concert films.” (Appropriate, since Prince gave us some of our best examples of concert footage.)

Here’s what’s slated:

Wattstax (1973)

Jan. 11

Stax Records put on a benefit concert to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the 1965 riots in the African American neighborhood of Watts, Los Angeles. It featured Stax’s big players, including the Staple Singers, Rufus Thomas, and Isaac Hayes—along with Richard Pryor, who provides hilarious insight throughout.

Amazing Grace (2019)

Jan. 18

You may already know that, in 1972, Aretha Franklin released her spine-tingling live album Amazing Grace. But did you know that Sydney Pollack was there, shooting raw footage? Syncing issues kept this film in the vault—until 2018. This critically acclaimed product of technical wizardry tracks the album’s impassioned genesis and zooms out on gospel’s place in the culture.

Dave Chappelle’s Block Party (2005)

Jan. 25

In 2004, comedian Dave Chappelle threw a block party in Brooklyn. Not just a block party: a Kanye West, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, The Roots, Jill Scott concert. Music aside, Chappelle was at his peak as a performer (he would soon walk away from Chappelle’s Show). Structurally, the documentary winds up echoing Wattstax.

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