Is a documentary to start the 36th annual Toronto International Film Festival? And a rock doc?  Makes sense, really, given that the festival and the band involved pretty much share the exact same birth date.

As the first-ever TIFF was kicking off in September 1976, the band that would become U2 were having their first rehearsals at the drummer’s house. 

And the Davis “It Might Get Loud” Guggenheim-directed From the Sky Down isn’t the only rock ‘n’ roll documentary at TIFF this year. Pearl Jam 20, a film capturing that band’s first two decades – a Cameron Crowe production, no less – will also get a showing before it has a brief one-night run in theatres on the 20th. 

And let’s not forget Paul Williams is Still Alive, a film about the diminutive songwriter and actor who starred in Phantom of the Paradise and, more impressively, wrote Rainbow Connection for Kermit the Frog.

This got me thinking about putting together a list of the best rock docs of all time. Here’s what I came up with.

The Last Waltz (1978): 

Martin Scorsese’s fascination with rock docs began here. The Band’s final concert at the Winterland Theatre in San Francisco set the bar high for years afterward.

The Kids Are Alright (1979): 

I was such a Who fan that when this came out, I sat through three straight showings in the theatre.

Rock & Roll:  An Unruly
History (1995):
 
A PBS mini-series based on the writings of academic Robert Palmer. 

Dig! (2004):
A side-by-side comparison of the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown massacre, two bands that emerged out of Portland on equal footing but had decidedly different (and tragic) career paths.

New York Doll (2005): 
How Arthur “Killer” Kane came to participate in a reunion of the New York Dolls. 

Joe Strummer:  The Future is Unwritten (2007): 
A brilliant look back at the life of the Clash frontman, warts and all.

And I know that the band wasn’t real (at least when they shot the mock-doc in 1984), but every music fan needs to watch This Is Spinal Tap.  A scary amount of truth lurks therein.

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